Best Practices

Quick Tips to Increase Communication & Staff Input

Here are four actions you can take on a daily basis to let staff know that you value their input:

1. Respond to voice mails and emails from staff as quickly as you can during business hours, even if it’s just to tell staff you’ve received the message and will respond to them at a later point.

2. Write down questions staff ask that you do not know the answer to, and either commit to finding the answer or tell them who should be able to answer the questions.

3. Close the loop when you act on a staff member’s idea—tell the staff member what you did. If appropriate, let your team know about the change and give credit to the staff member who raised the issue.

4. Give staff advance notice about when you’ll be unavailable. Example: meetings or vacation.


1. Idea Progress Board

This tool helps you collect feedback from staff and show staff how you’re using their ideas.

Manager Time Commitment

To implement: 30 minutes
To maintain: 5 to 10 minutes for discussion at change-of-shift or unit huddle

Staff Time Commitment

5 to 10 minutes for discussion at change of-shift or unit huddle

How to use this tool?

1. Create an Idea Board.

a. Hand-draw a 2x2 grid on a whiteboard in your daily huddle area. Use the template (in additional resources) as a guide. Make sure you draw the grid big enough for one envelope to easily fit in each quadrant.

b. Tape one envelope into each quadrant of the whiteboard. Each envelope should be big enough to store 8.5”x11” pieces of paper. (Make sure the envelopes don’t cover the words in each quadrant, or write the corresponding quadrant label on each envelope.)

c. Tape an envelope big enough to store 8.5”x11” pieces of paper on or below your whiteboard. Label it: New Ideas.

d. [Optional] Write your team’s top three priorities at the bottom of the whiteboard. You’ll later use these as prompts for staff ideas. If you have trouble deciding on only three priorities, pick the ones where you particularly want staff buy-in or new ideas.

2. Prepare to lead a training session on the Idea Board.

a. Print the New Idea Form and Idea Triage Cheat Sheet (in additional resources). You’ll need one copy of each per staff member, plus two extra.

b. Fill out the New Idea Form for two sample ideas. You’ll want to create an “Implement” and a “Do Not Pursue” example.

3. Introduce the Idea Board to your staff in a quick training session.

a. Use the Facilitator Guide for an Initial Training Session (in additional resources).

4. Once a week, take five minutes to prioritize new ideas with staff at change of shift.

These steps are a high-level overview of how to triage ideas in the moment. For more information on triaging ideas, review the Idea Triage Cheat Sheet (in additional resources).

a. Review any New Idea Forms from the New Ideas envelope as a group. You’ll want to ensure staff understand the new idea so they can easily triage it. 

b. Decide if the idea supports your team’s top three priorities. If an idea does not align with your team’s priorities, explain that this idea can still move forward but other ideas may take priority.

c. Decide each new idea’s impact and complexity. Use the Idea Triage Cheat Sheet as a guide. Then place the new idea in the appropriate Idea Board quadrant.

d. Decide if you want to begin immediately working on an idea that is sorted into the “Implement” quadrant. Base this decision on how many projects are already underway and how much time your staff has.

e. Ask for volunteers to “own” each new idea that the group decides they want to immediately work on.

5. At each change of shift, take five minutes to discuss current projects.
a. Review all ideas that are currently underway.  

b. Acknowledge any completed ideas and remove them from the board. Keep a record of these completed ideas.

Additional Resources

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