Sharing Ideas at Work: 8 Ways You Can Encourage Idea Sharing

The best products and services often come from team members building off each other's ideas. Learn 8 ways to encourage idea sharing.

A key benefit of working with a team is all the unique perspectives that can help influence a project’s direction. By brainstorming with others, you open the floor to new solutions to your problems – the type you might not have thought of before. 

However, sharing ideas at work can feel intimidating, and some team members might find it more difficult to join the conversation than others. Below are a few tips on how to encourage everyone to voice their thoughts and contribute to your projects. 

8 ways you can encourage sharing ideas at work

Encouraging employees to share ideas starts with creating an emotionally safe work environment. And sure, some people won’t have any problem sharing their honest thoughts on a topic. But getting quieter people to do the same can take a little extra effort.  Here are a few ways to help get everyone involved in your brainstorming sessions. 

1Create a feedback-friendly atmosphere 

One of the easiest, most effective ways to encourage idea sharing is to make it clear that sharing ideas is acceptable. Think about it like this: People naturally shy away from embarrassment or negative feedback, so they might not share ideas unless given explicit permission. This can result in solely your most outspoken team members getting a say. 

To encourage a more open and accepting atmosphere, simply tell your team that all ideas are welcome. Alternatively, you can ask specific team members for their thoughts on the current topic. 

Encourage idea sharing

Increase meeting engagement and participation with a collaborative agenda that the whole team can contribute to. Try using a tool like Fellow!

2Encourage idea-sharing day-to-day 

Don’t expect your team to keep sharing on their own after only encouraging them once. It usually takes a bit more than that to change one’s natural behaviors, so consistency is key if you want an idea-sharing mindset to stick. Eventually, your team might not require extra help to hold an idea-filled conversation, but getting to that point takes continuous effort.

3Create multiple avenues for idea sharing

Try not to rely on any one method to hear your team’s ideas. Old standbys like employee reviews can still be effective, but they should only be the start. Try using a few methods to ensure that you’re getting the opinions of as many people as possible. Some effective methods for gathering your team’s ideas include surveys, suggestion boxes, online messaging platforms like Slack, or lunch meetings.  

4Offer anonymous tools

Even the most outgoing employees might have some shakier ideas that they’re hesitant to share with the team. But even those thoughts and opinions can improve the company as a whole. The best way to get them out in the open is with anonymity. 

This anonymity can help since some team members might feel bolder when their words are less likely to impact their careers negatively. A discreet way to get feedback can help you hear great ideas you might miss otherwise. For example, with Fellow’s feedback tool, you and your team can give feedback during meetings and then create real-time meeting action items

5Broaden your idea pool

Brainstorming ideas with only a few people can give you a narrow perspective on the problems your team is facing. Bringing more people in is the obvious solution, but most meeting rooms only have so much space before they start feeling a little cramped. That said, this was more of a problem in the past when technology hadn’t given organizations so many methods to communicate. Now, with email and other messaging services, you can cast as wide a net as you’d like to get new ideas and feedback. 

6Lead by example 

Using the tips on this list to encourage your team to share ideas is only half the work. You also need to practice what you preach – your team might look to you for guidance on what to do in certain situations. If you’re reluctant to share your ideas, your team might feel the same. Strive to be open and honest with your team at every opportunity so they can pick up on that and follow suit.

7Reward employee creativity

A great way to build team collaboration is to incentivize employees when they offer new ideas. A little healthy competition can stoke more creativity as employees push themselves to think outside the box while working towards a prize. And it doesn’t really matter what form your contest takes. Whether it’s between individuals or teams, your people will often be more excited to share their ideas as long as they’re properly motivated.

8Use brainstorming programs

Convenience is often a big part of constant idea sharing, and that’s why there are online programs designed for easier brainstorming. Fellow, for instance, provides an easy way to collaborate on ideas with its Streams tool. During team meetings, you and your team can take real-time notes, track progress for project goals, and organize ideas to refer back to later. 

Why is it important to share ideas at work?

Good ideas are the bread and butter of any great organization. Here’s why.

1Opens you up to new possibilities 

Each employee will have their own experiences and points of view to pull from when sharing their ideas. Looking at a problem from many different perspectives can reveal new ways to tackle it, opening new possibilities for your organization.

2Deepens everyone’s knowledge

No one can ever know everything about a topic. Providing ample opportunity for new ideas can reveal new insights that you might have never thought of on your own. Your team members can also learn new ideas from each other and then build from them in all kinds of exciting ways.

3Adds a layer of authority 

Just as the flow of new ideas can allow your employees to innovate more and more, it can increase your company’s standing within your industry. Leaders within any field are expected to have expertise that guides everyone toward new possibilities, and that starts with great ideas. 

4Inspires others 

When everyone is willing to share their ideas with the rest of the team, it can lead to a collaborative atmosphere. That’s good both in the short term and in the long run. Right now, it does wonders for your team’s brainstorming and communication. Keep it up, and any new hires might feel comfortable sharing their ideas sooner instead of waiting till they’ve been on the team a while.

5Helps make ideas a reality

Almost every great product or service started as an idea in someone’s head. If they remained there, there’s no guarantee that we’d have the same luxuries we do today, or at least not in the same form. Giving your team every opportunity to share their thoughts can help ensure that a great idea becomes a reality. And if you’re lucky, it can be the kind of idea that leads to a product or service only you can offer.

Success starts with an idea

Encouraging employees to share ideas with the whole team can motivate them to grow within their roles. With more ideas on the table, your team has something to build from and a way to meet the future your customers demand. And though building a work environment where ideas flow freely can be tricky, Fellow is ready to lend a hand. With Fellow’s valuable features for real-time feedback and note-taking, every idea can get its time in the sun.

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Fellow is the meeting productivity and team management software where teams gather to build collaborative agendas, record decisions, and keep each other accountable.

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