A Miracle on the 34th Floor

I am sure there are going to be people from both sides of this fence, but this one tackles the suggestion box at the workplace, and the lack of both implementation of ideas, and appreciation for the ideas that are implemented that goes with it.

Robbie had once seen a place where the feedback box had no bottom and was placed strategically over a garbage can. At the time she found it a little funny, and a little rude, but four years into her stint as a manager she wondered if she could copy the idea.

She sat in the cafeteria using her lunch break to go through the ideas, and nibbled on one of the Christmas cookies she had brought in for everyone as a response to one of the suggestions.

There was never any positive feedback in feedback box, only criticism. Little things that she could or should be doing to make things better. On paper some of them looked great, but they could be physically, financially, or technically implausible. For example, a four day weekday was great, but the customers really expected them to be open on the weekend.

That was what they told the employees anyways, upper management had actually been willing to cave on that one if middle management really thought that employees would like it as much as indicated. Of course, if the trial was successful, they would have to let 45% of the employees go, because they wouldn’t need to staff additional shifts, and the money to cover the sales decrease had to come from somewhere.

Or that it would be great to buy cakes for every employees birthday, but it would be a logistical nightmare, not only in obtaining and tracking birthdays, but also in the cakes themselves given allergies and dietary restrictions, and then the hurt feelings when they only got one cake on a shared birthday. Some things were not worth the mess that they would create.

That was the thing about suggestions, comments, feedback, the person filling out the little slip of paper didn’t have to do anything more than dream up an idea. This was great from a brainstorming perspective, as there was no judging, just free ideas. It was however, miserable in middle management, because they had to review and vet the ideas for upper management. This meant they spent a large portion of time giving “serious” thought, to ideas like getting a cat for morale, in a food production plant, and justifying why or why not this would be a good idea.

They then had to go back to the floor, mostly with bad news, present all the ideas, get their hopes up, and then completely shit on them. Then of course, the wost part, encourage them to keep submitting the stupid ideas.

It was a long exhausting process, and somehow my company felt that it had merit. That it kept employees involved and motivated, rather than just implying that their ideas ultimately sucked, because the only ones that really got implemented were at a higher level, as we specifically only came up with reasonable ideas.

Anyways, I was sitting the break room, listening to an employee go on and on about that, how its all fixed, how we put it up as a show. That people, like her, were never going to be listened to, when one brave soul interrupted.

“Actually, they have done a lot of the ideas.” Said one of our quieter people, Margo.

“Excuse me?” The upstart replied.

“I said, they have done a lot of the ideas. I mean we got the new colder water cooler, a new fridge, extra microwaves, they replaced the chairs, and gave a budget the social committee who put up the decorations, and brought in the Christmas cookies you are eating.” Margo replied getting louder with each word

I could see the employees look around with a new sense of awareness, the decorations, cakes, cookies, and the social calendar. It was like they could see it, finally. The upstart began to sputter a response, but was cut off by a bell signaling the end of lunch. They filed out of the cafeteria towards the floor, each stopping to thank me, a member of the social committee, for the cookies and I felt myself flush with each one. Suddenly the feedback box didn’t seem so bad, and I felt that it was kind of a Christmas miracle.


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