Lighting Fires to Ignite Contribution

While talking with my brother Len recently he made the following observation / posed the following question “While freeing kid’s form issues of mechanics means they can create more, are they creating a greater quality of work, or do they simply just have more time on their hands?” His question struck me.

While talking with a client recently he mentioned that when they instituted cell phones as a technology to help improve communications on jobs and cut down on the amount of time spent trying to do downloads at the end of the day, the number of personal text messages skyrocketed the next month. The question here is when the employees had more time did they simply idle that time away or were they asked to come up with ways to better solve other problems?

I often say that when we automate and systematize processes and procedures and use technology to better handle the mechanics and mundane tasks we face on a daily basis that it leaves more time for creativity.  It leaves more time for solving bigger problems. The question is, as leaders do we actually ask our staff and teammates to be more creative and innovative with their time when we’ve instituted that technology?

Technology serves in helping us get data more quickly, but the tool in and by itself is benign.  The more important question to ask is how we use that data to better solve problems or issues. This is a cultural issue, and empowering employees to think differently in the workplace starts with what we as leaders ask of them.

So this has all left me wondering – what are the bigger questions we can be asking our people in order to have them help solve the bigger problems or issues we face in our companies?  It is a proven fact that a key driver for employee satisfaction on a job is to feel a sense of contribution and value in the work they do.  Isn’t asking them to be part of a bigger solution actually helping to achieve that?  What are we doing to light fires in people?

Your input on this topic is encouraged – what do you think?

Make it an extraordinary day!



  1. Jeanette Vonier

    I remember many years ago when I worked for Scott Paper Company, they wanted to let people know how much their talents were affected by their belief of what they could do. So they related a true story about a test that was done ( I don’t know if it was actually done at our company). The story went that several employees in lower level jobs were pulled together in a meeting and told they had been specially selected for their talents and then they asked for their input to help solve some of the company problems. Guess what? They did as well as the higher ups at coming up with good ideas! The set up gave them the confidence to believe they could, so they did have the ideas! I don’t know that it specifically answers your question, but it makes me think that employers should not undervalue the opinion and creativity of any of their employees.
    People are capable of so much more than they realize. Employers should encourage their employees to share ideas and then they should listen to them. If that happened regularly then they probably would be more creative!

    • Vicki Suiter

      Thank you for sharing your story and insights Jeanette. I think you are so right that as employers we need to encourage our employees greatness.