In companies promoting a top-down approach, employees that can or even do identify problems typically do not offer solutions. This may happen for several reasons, the employees might not have the skills, or there may be an “Us vs. Them” mentality.
When employees are not involved in identifying problems or offering solutions, it falls upon the managers to resolve these issues along with their other responsibilities. Time is unkind in the business world, and problems that have no obvious solutions usually find themselves on the back burner. When this happens repeatedly, employees learn not to bother with problems or solutions because it ‘won’t make any difference”.
Management can spend an enormous amount of time and money on planning strategy and developing work processes. However, it’s the employees who use those plans and processes.
If the plans don’t work or are ineffective or too costly, who will know first?
That’s right, the employees. Yet all too often, no one asks the employees to share their experiences.
We call our improvement meetings ‘Reverse-Flow’. Our observation is that in many companies, the suggestions and ideas flow down from the president to managers to employees with little to no opportunity for review and evaluation.
Our meetings ‘reverse the flow’ of suggestions and ideas. We begin with front-line employee groups, followed by middle management, and finally reach the executive management group and hand them a pile of solutions.