There's a right way for employees to suggest change


October 13, 1991|By Niki Scott | Niki Scott,Universal Press Syndicate

Good employees are imaginative and innovative. Good employees think for themselves. Good employees aren't afraid to question the status quo. Good employees speak up when they have a better idea.

These truths can be found in any getting-ahead-in-business manual, but what most experts forget to mention is that good employees also suggest even the most elementary changes in company policy or procedure carefully -- very carefully -- or they end up as ex-employees.

It's true that there's hardly a job that can't be done better. It's also true that change upsets people.

So before you suggest a change in the status quo, ask yourself: "Have I done my homework?" Then ask yourself these:

*Do I know why things have been handled this way in the past? Do I know if they're being handled the same way in other departments?

*Do I know at least two realistic, specific benefits that would result from making the change?

*How will the change I'm about to suggest benefit my boss, in particular, if she accepts the suggestion?

*How long would it take my boss and/or the company to realize these appreciable and measurable benefits?

*What's the cost of making this change? To my boss? To the company? Can my boss and I make this change on our own, or will other personnel have to be consulted and/or involved?

*What can I learn from the past? How does my company's management usually react to suggestions from its employees?

*Do I have a good track record with my boss? With this company?

If your job performance hasn't been 100 percent lately, clean up your act before suggesting how the company -- or your boss -- should change theirs.

*Finally, how much of my self-confidence and self-esteem are wrapped up in my company's acceptance or rejection of this great idea? Am I clear that if it's rejected, this does not mean that I am rejected -- or even that my idea was dumb or rash or scatterbrained or naive or stupid?

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