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Suffering rejection

Posted 30/01/2015 by sevans

Ever wondered what happens when you drop some ideas into your company’s suggestion box? Do they disappear into that waste paper mountain or are they considered carefully for their potential by the management? If they do take the time to read your thoughts – and they like what they see – do you ever hear anything in response? And if you do hear back, does it encourage further thinking or just stop the creative juices, or even redirect them to something else more personal?

Well, according to Dirk Deichmann, a professor at Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University, in the Netherlands, employees whose innovation ideas were rejected once, come back with more, Rejection actually stimulates the creative juices, according to his research.
Deichmann researched 1800 suggestions that were submitted through a company’s online suggestion box over a time span of 12 years. He found that rejecting an idea motivated people to come back with a new idea. However, people whose ideas were accepted at the first try were less likely to come back with a new suggestion.

Even though rejection frequently drew a positive response, employees would stop engaging after an average of 27 rejected ideas, he discovered.
His study also looked at the quality of the suggestions made by people who were earlier rejected. He found that even though people will come back, their ideas would be rejected over and over again. On the other hand, people with favourable ideas were not likely to come back with more, but if they did, their ideas are more likely to get accepted again.

Deichmann believes that ‘if businesses want their employees to submit useful ideas from which the company can benefit, they have to motivate people who once submitted a successful idea, to come back with more. Equally, they should assist those who do come back, but had their earlier ideas rejected, by guiding them on general criteria or connecting them with employees whose ideas were successful’.
So is being more innovative one of your New Year’s resolutions? If so, then that company suggestion box is waiting – and don’t be discouraged by rejection. Like that well-known spider observed by Robert the Bruce, just keep trying.

Neil Eisberg - Editor

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