Are you the type of leader who gets annoyed by your employees questioning your strategy or a series of decisions that you made? Or are you the type of leader who embraces new solutions or new (and better!) ways of solving problems for your customers that your team might have? You might find that the negative connotation of someone 'making waves' in your company can result in a positive outcome.

In a definition of making waves I found this definition: to shock or upset people with something new or different.

So many times we all get a bit used to a monotonous day-to-day and often don't ask ourselves the following: "Why are we doing this?" or say "there's a way better, easier and cheaper way to do this."

But we should be asking these questions and should be fostering our team members to as well. Case in point, I have a friend named Max who works at a company where management promotes the following in their culture: if you go against the grain, question authority or question management decisions, you are immediately ostracized and politically demoted because you make waves.

The very things Max asks about are things that could dramatically help company morale, dramatically affect costs or dramatically increase revenue. Yet because she brings up things that management doesn't want to hear or deal with, they've now made her the black sheep of the organization, and as a result no one wants to listen.

But Max is like many people in your organization who could have the next big idea by making waves. Is your management team fostering this positive behavior or are your Max's being ostracized in the same vein by your management team, and you don't even know?

It's time you opened your door to wave making!

  • In your business breakroom have a whiteboard with 'Make Waves!' written on it. Then ask you employees to write down their ideas. Daily you should be looking at this board for inspiration. The next cost cutting idea could be solved with a simple application to a long-standing process but since you aren't an integral part of the process you don't even know, let them make waves. Or at least have a 'Make Waves' suggestion box. Do both!
  • Go over your Make Waves ideas publicly at a company meeting. Go through each idea with a positive spin and what you're going to do about it or what you can't do about it and why. Doing this promotes the idea that you're open, you're willing to listen and could potentially do something about it.
  • Do something about your Wave Makers! Give stars that publicly identify who is thinking about ways to improve what you have or do something totally new.

Some of the best companies pivot or excel because of great ideas from their people; why not allow your team members to make waves in your own company? You're good, but you can't have all the best ideas.