A group of four work colleagues are huddled around a large worktable discussing a project.
Great ideas are built on planning and collaboration. List the objectives that will need to be met, and be as specific as possible. And praise those who have helped shape ideas. — Getty Images/10'000 Hours

Did you know that the idea for the frappuccino — one of Starbucks’ most popular drinks — came from an employee? Former CEO Howard Schultz initially opposed the idea, believing it would hurt the company’s brand.

Amazing things can happen when you encourage employees to innovate and share their ideas about how the company can be improved. Here are five ways to put these ideas into action.

[Read more: 5 Habits That Will Make Entrepreneurs More Creative and Innovative]

Create an idea management process

Giving your employees a way to submit their ideas isn't enough — your business needs a process for evaluating and iterating those ideas. This process makes it more likely you’ll identify and implement the ideas that can bring the most value to the company.

Have a team in place to review employee ideas and determine which ones are worth exploring. You can also create a platform where employees can collaborate and debate different ideas. Involving employees in this creative process ensures that all ideas receive equal consideration.

Reward employees for their ideas

Individuals who regularly provide feedback and share their ideas are probably your most engaged employees. According to Gallup, workplaces with highly engaged employees are 21% more profitable than their competitors.

While you can’t act on every good idea an employee brings to the table, you should acknowledge employees for contributing. Publicly commend that employee and any other employees who helped refine the idea.

And consider giving a significant reward to employees whose ideas are implemented. By acknowledging and rewarding their efforts, employees will be more willing to continue sharing their ideas in the future.

[Read more: 5 Proven Ways to Increase Employee Satisfaction]

While you can’t act on every good idea an employee brings to the table, you should acknowledge employees for contributing.

Use the right software

Having the right software in place makes it easier for your employees to brainstorm, come up with ideas, and give one another feedback. And once you’re ready to implement those ideas, these tools can make it easier for the team to collaborate, stay organized, and monitor how the project is going.

Look for idea management software that is easy to learn and use — if it’s too complex, you’ll have to train your team on how to use it. And look for a scalable solution that will grow with your business. Otherwise, you may be forced to replace the current solution once your business starts expanding.

Get everyone on board

Once you have your objectives outlined, create a to-do list and get other employees involved. Not only will this help complete the project more quickly, but it will also go a long way toward getting buy-in from other employees.

Many workplace projects fail because management doesn’t get other employees on board with the idea. Don’t assume everyone will support the project just because the idea came from an employee. Communicate why the idea will benefit everyone at the company and continue to provide as much information as possible.

[Read more: Forget Brainstorming—These Are the Best Ways to Come Up With Innovative Ideas]

Come up with a plan

Planning is the most tedious aspect of any workplace project, but without a plan, employee ideas are likely to wither on the vine and die. A plan serves as a road map to guide your team from beginning to end.

Start by creating a list of objectives you’ll need to meet to accomplish your big goal. You want to develop objectives that are specific and measurable so that everyone understands what needs to be done. As you begin implementing the plan, keep the team focused on the end result, and don’t let other ideas distract you from your ultimate goal.

Once the project is complete, take time to evaluate the successes and failures. Learning from your mistakes helps you improve your idea management process and ensure that nothing gets overlooked.

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

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