In the 20 years since I launched what became Angie’s List, what it means to “be the boss” has had to evolve.
A challenge for me now, as chief marketing officer of a company with 2,000 employees, is accessing ideas from the people who spend the most time with our consumers and service providers.
Earlier this year, I started providing employees a weekly opportunity to bring me an idea, concern or anything else they want to share. I got the notion from “Quick and Nimble,” Adam Bryant’s book on how leaders can create a culture of innovation.
Each week I offer four 15-minute appointments to any employees who claim the time. I’m really enjoying it. I get to connect with folks from across the organization, which helps me better understand the challenges of their particular work area. And if I think a proposal has merit, I arrange an introduction to the person best suited to take the next step.
Participants have pointed out glitches that have been corrected, suggested process improvements that are being executed and have offered ideas for great content from our Newsroom team.
Office hours are my personal response to the need to capture and funnel good ideas. As a company, we’ve instituted an official “Bright Idea” program that lets any employee submit proposals through our intranet site. It’s essentially replaced the physical “suggestion boxes” that worked when we were much smaller.
Proposals have included a way to increase call-center efficiency during low-volume periods, how to stretch our supply dollars with a paper reuse plan and more. One was especially delightful: Build a “little free library” that employees and neighbors of our Indianapolis campus can use to borrow donated books.
Employees know many excellent ways to save money, time and meet all kinds of goals, including creating a great place to work. The challenge for bosses is to find ways to capture and act on all that insight.