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How Leaders Can Use Crowdsourcing to Motivate Employees for Problem Solving

By August 11, 2015Article

Most employees these days are inundated with various communication channels and multiple demands from across their organizations, not to mention their immediate day-to-day responsibilities. In most cases, they don’t have time for more work. How can a leader who needs to drive initiatives forward engage the masses to help drive the company forward? By reaching out and showing that you care with crowdsourcing, of all things. 

The masses will not support new initiatives if they are not engaged or if they lack the time to do so. When you narrowly focus on your personal agenda and departmental needs, the people in the trenches will feel no incentive to make the time to help you. But you can motivate workers by leading them out of their reactive state of mind and attacking the most painful processes that drain their time and energy. 

I’ve found that in today’s workforce, crowdsourcing can effectively identify the greatest sources of employee pain and help engage workers by sharing their best ideas for mutual problem solving. At POP, for example, we have conducted more than 100 crowdsourcing sessions working with business leaders to curate a narrow question on any pressing topic and then crowdsourcing an answer from each team over a two-day session. 

The employees first must tell the leader what is hurting them. We’ve adopted the tagline, “If You Don’t Share Your Pain, Your Pain Will Remain.” This slogan helps people quickly grasp the cathartic nature of the “pain-sourcing” process. 

We’ve found that this approach helps focus the team on a specific problem, rather than turning the session into a free-for-all on irrelevant topics – or worse, a chance to vent and complain without offering any tangible solutions. 

Making employees accomplices in the plan 

As the leader, you will likely have some ideas for how to solve the biggest pain points, but so will the crowd. With crowdsourcing, you can solve it together. Most employees are enthusiastic about participating because they have never been empowered to solve their own problems in this way. Crowdsourcing gives them a proactive way to help themselves, rather than taking marching orders dictated from their superiors. 

Crowdsourcing sessions can help pinpoint the biggest pain points in your department, and generate a skeleton plan to solve the problems. This is where things get interesting. When a pain-sourcing session begins, most people lift their heads up because this is not a typical communication asking them to find more time to do more work. This is uniquely about them and their quality of life in the workplace. 

Almost every time, a leader from the trenches will step forward and offer to lead a mission to eradicate the problem. This changes the management dynamic by making your employees accomplices in the plan. 

They will join you because this process is focused on their needs, not the company’s needs. It may sound obvious, but people will find time to help themselves. We have found this to be true in virtually every crowdsourcing session that we’ve conducted. And more engaged employees make for more productive workers. 

There really is no need to start new initiatives if no one has the time or inclination to get involved. But if you crowdsource and pain-solve instead of just dumping more work on people, they will answer the call. Your goal should be to create a transparent culture where employees feel empowered to solve their biggest problems themselves because they have been made an accomplice in the plan. 

Hayes Drumwright is co-founder and CEO of POPin, a SaaS, mobile and Web solution empowering organizations to make ideas actionable by engaging the team for crowdsourcing opportunities and crowdsolving specific initiatives. Hayes has been a successful serial entrepreneur for over 20 years. He took Trace3 from idea to revenues in excess of $400 million. In 2010, Hayes was named Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year in Orange County and the Desert Regions, California.




















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