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The suggestion box: How do you make it work?

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Question: “I think it’s completely essential for every company to have a ‘suggestion box,’ by which I mean any kind of system that delivers anonymous comments to top managers. So I’m going to propose we have one where I work, which of course means I’ll have to create the system myself! I’m wondering if anyone has any insight into the best way to go about it: paper or electronic? Old-fashioned box or some kind of website? And should the suggestions be made public or kept private?”  – Dot, Records Archivist

See comments below, and send your own question to Admin-Pro@nibm.net.

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Kelly December 23, 2013 at 8:28 am

I think you make it electronic–if people have to put something into a box, it takes away the anonymity; you can almost deduce who made the suggestion by the way it’s formatted, handwritten, printed out, etc., plus it leads to people sneaking around to put their suggestion in there, which is just sad! Anyways, suggestions should be public. Have IT build an electronic whiteboard that everyone can see without a login or password; it’s just a bulletin board that everyone can see. You could even take the extra step of ‘scrambling’ the times things are posted so that they appear at midnight every day.

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Rita December 19, 2013 at 5:19 pm

We have a system that we call STP – - that stands for the three sections of the form (8 1/2 x 11, landscape). On the top is S (Situation as it is now) which asks for a brief description of the current process and associated issues. The middle section is T (Target) which asks for a brief description of what the desired future process would look like and its likely associated benefits. The bottom is P (Proposal) which asks for a brief description of the desired steps to reach the Target. This system practically forces staff to present a solution at the same time that they are complaining about a problem.
Everyone has access to the blank forms, and there is an envelope in the staff lounge where the filled out forms are placed – - this way, staff can submit an STP anonymously. A designated person (that would be the Admin Assistant) picks up the STPs and presents them to leadership at the weekly leadership meeting. At that meeting, the suggestion is discussed, further research assigned by the boss, and/or a solution is decided on. Then the Admin Assistant publishes the STP and leadership’s response on our shared drive (we use SharePoint) for everyone to access. Each response includes they whys and wherefores to staff, e.g., a suggestion was denied because it would cost too much money to implement or it is in violation of the local building codes, etc.
Anyone on staff can submit an STP, and all are given due consideration by leadership, along with a full explanation of the final decision. It’s been working great, once everyone got used to presenting solutions at the same time that they present a problem or concern.

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Theresa Kasel December 19, 2013 at 5:05 pm

Electronic would be best but I’m not sure how you’d go about an electronic system that would allow the comments to be anonymous.

I would suggest creating a “suggestion box” email account that ideas could be sent to. These, of course, wouldn’t be anonymous, but sometimes people are fine to have their name associated with their suggestion. I would also maintain some sort of box that suggestions could be anonymously dropped into.

I also think you would need to have some sort of process that does a follow up on the suggestions. If people don’t get messages that suggestions were received, discussed and a reason the ideas were or were not put into place, they’ll believe the suggestions are being ignored and stop making them.

They will also stop making them if none of the suggestions ever get implemented.

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