Many workplaces can be places wrought with difficult challenges, leaving employees feeling unsatisfied and unhappy. When problems arise, team members on the ground can be impacted most severely and even be the first to notice. However, employees are often uniquely qualified to identify problems and suggest solutions. As an employee, it can feel difficult to implement solutions to workplace issues, but there are strategies to help navigate these potential minefields. Consider these tips as you look to make a larger scale, positive change.
Understand structure and power
Within an organization, there can exist varying levels of power and different structures. When addressing issues within your company it is critical to understand what those influences are and how they impact the organization. While these may feel like irrelevant bureaucratic nonsense, these structures have a significant impact on the way organizations take on change. By understanding the powers that be and the influence, you can offer a tailored approach that speaks to your particular circumstances.
Listening is key
Many employees, particularly lower levels may feel that all they do is listen to the issues at hand, as the ability to direct and take charge is often limited to more senior-level positions. However, for employees who feel they also have something to contribute to positive change within the organization, it can be impactful to hear what the key issues are. By listening before suggesting solutions, you can understand the underlying issues and address them correctly, as opposed to jumping in without knowing which outcome would work best.
Do your research
Understanding key issues and underlying problems can be best understood through learning a bit more about the experience of team members. This requires researching what those are, and will require attention to dig further into the topic. One key strategy is qualitative interviewing, which can offer unique insight into the concerns that may exist in the workplace. By collecting data around the experience that can be done through focus groups or evaluation interviews, you can find yourself with an abundance of information to inform how you will move forward with tackling workplace problems.
Make suggestions, but keep an open mind
While collecting data and information in the initial phases can yield a great deal of information to inform your solutions, it is important to also suggest solutions. While identifying problems that exist within the workplace is a key component, no one wants to sit around and just gripe and complain about problems. Managers and companies appreciate the efforts of solution-focused thinkers, those who identify an issue and then present suggestions on how to tackle it. However, even after you identify a problem, it is critical tokeep an open mind to other opinions. The research and planning phases are helpful, but when sharing your data, you may find yourself sparking another employee’s idea.
The hard work and effort that you put into this project can bring up feelings of ownership or unpleasantness over someone interjecting their thoughts. However, it is useful for you to keep an open mind as others suggest solutions, as each person’s unique perspective can bring additional power and strength to your argument. Keep your tone positive and keep your ego out of the conversation, so that your team can come to the right solution that everyone can get behind.
Communication is a necessary component of all steps of this process. Understanding the necessity of effective communication as you address conflict in the workplace is crucial. Whether you are tailoring your communication strategies within a bureaucratic system or listening to suggestions from your colleagues, the ability to communicate with all areas of your organization is key to addressing critical change and implementing effective solutions with the management of your organization.
Regardless of where in the company your position is, each employee has the opportunity to address and tackle positive change. Consider how you can embrace this in your role and be the true change agent that your company needs.