I wonder how many in leadership cringe on the inside, (during meetings) when employees complain of a breakdown in communication and systems, but fail to offer a solution?
I mention this with empathy for leadership who are “expected” to lead and provide a resolution to all systemic issues.
Having experienced my share of working with disgruntled employees (those who are quick to speak out on injustices), I see the need for ideas or resolutions after the feedback is provided.
I am sure a great deal of employees are waiting for their employer or upper management to offer resolution, after all they are the ones in a leadership position, right?, However a company culture that seeks resolution from the frontline employee is in my eyes, wisdom.
Frontline employees speak directly with customers, and since they are the ones that are more likely to discover a trend that is hurting the organization, they should also receive the opportunity to work on a resolution.
Therefore there should be an ongoing and spoken rule that states “if you speak up in meetings to state a problem, you must in the same breath offer a solution”.
In no way is this designed to punish those who present problems, but it sets the tone for problem solving or resolution without creating an atmosphere that lends itself to constant criticism.
Team Work in the making
Management and frontline workers receive the opportunity to work together as a team to bring about resolution as opposed to waiting for leaders who are often stopping other organizational wide problems to provide all of the answers.
This also allows for upper management to remain in tune with the feelings and thoughts of its employees and customers (as they will hear firsthand from frontline workers what the organization is up against, while at the same time learning of frequent consumer complaints).
Application in the making
You may wonder, “What is the most efficient way to endorse this sort of change?”
- Speak with the employees in meetings and set the expectation – if a problem is mentioned, it must be closely followed by a solution (from that particular employee).
- After the problem at hand is mentioned (with a possible resolution), if indeed that resolution is manageable and cost effective, place the employee on a team that is designed to conquer that problem.
- The employee is now expected to collect data to confirm that indeed the problem is a new or reoccurring trend.
- Once the employee collects the data, that particular employee will now be expected to relay this information back to the team and management for further plans to rectify the issue.
It may not be the answer to solve all organization wide problems but it’s a damn good way to get the conversation started.
The next step will be for management to trust the expertise of frontline employees to activate resolution. This has the opportunity to provide more fulfillment for the front-line employee, while retaining satisfied customers.
What tips do you have to offer to bridge the gap between frontline employees and management?