How to Respectively Decline Employees' Suggestions Without Hurting their Morale

Knowing how to respectfully decline your employees' suggestions without hurting their morale goes a long way in building a progressing working culture.

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By Taiwo Sotikare

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

One of your crucial responsibilities as the CEO or General Manager is making the best decision for your company. While at this, there are occasions when your employees are buzzing with ideas, which seem fantastic to them, but may not be the best fit for the company's growth. Reasons may be because of the company's current stage or other factors.

Giving constructive decline to employees' suggestions is far more than just a typical staff management duty. One of the most beneficial things you can do as a manager is to provide employees feedback on why the suggestion may not be the best fit. Your capacity to pinpoint specific areas for improvement and motivate your team to take charge of their development will determine how well you can assist staff members in moving on to the next level. And when you give your employees constructive criticism, it can inspire them to improve their performance and give them a greater understanding of what they need to do to thrive in both their employment and the company.

It might be challenging to reject an employee's opinion because you want to keep a happy and productive work atmosphere while still conveying your decision. Here are some suggestions for rejecting an employee's proposal without damaging their morale:

Related: How to Give Employee Feedback Effectively (and Why It Matters)

1. Let them know you value their opinions

"Thank you for your suggestion, Michael. I am not sure if that will be the best move, considering the current financial state of the brand."

Letting your employee know you value their engagement and thanking them for their suggestion, even if you cannot use their advice, demonstrates that you appreciate their opinion. Through this, you get to encourage them to suggest something more beneficial next time. You also instill more confidence in them, and they can channel it to develop more suggested creative ideas when the need arises.

2. Maintain clarity with respect

It's crucial to be truthful and explain why the company cannot implement the recommendation. Be careful not to give the employee the impression that their suggestion was inadequate or dismissed without thought. Instead, explain and let them know you understand the suggestion. Be transparent to allow them to understand why it cannot be adopted. Make sure they are aware of the benefits and drawbacks associated with the recommendations.

Once you treat the suggestion with respect, they will be able to see through your message. They will be less critical if they feel the suggestion has been given enough thought.

3. Give early feedback

Suppose the suggested idea has merit but cannot be carried out at this period; consider providing suggestions on how it may be enhanced or modified for consideration in the future. Don't just let them dangle. It's normal to feel awkward rejecting someone's opinion. However, letting them think about the suggestion as bad is the worst thing you can do. If the answer must be no, say so as soon as you can. This will help prevent doubts and anxiety on their part. They could also give it more thought and come up with another working solution.

4. Suggest alternative approaches

There are occasions whereby the suggestion is okay; however, it needs to be more practical. In this case, consider offering different strategies or ways the decision-making team could implement the employee's concept into the work process. Bringing out another unique idea helps them understand your approach and shows that you appreciate their suggestion. They will also have a sense of commitment and want to commit more to the company's growth.

Related: How to Give Creativity a Voice in the Workplace

5. Encourage them to elaborate on the suggestion

A simple comment like "That seems like a great idea. Could you please elaborate?" can go a long way in having your employees walk you through their thought processes. From there, you may be able to get their angles and also know what can and cannot work. And if you must decline the suggestion, the employees would understand you care about their opinion. Meanwhile, while asking them to elaborate, you must listen actively and try to comprehend it from their point of view. Because if you show passive attention, the employee will notice and may feel insulted.

6. Do not act dismissive or rude

While it is important to be straightforward and honest when rejecting an idea, it is equally crucial to avoid being unpleasant or dismissive. You may kill the employee's morale, which may result in a lousy work environment. It could also lead to either a possible altercation or low employee self-esteem. They would no longer feel safe giving opinions where it matters. Being rude or dismissive will only shatter their confidence, cause unhealthy competition or cause ineffective dedication to duty. It would be ideal if you could prevent that from occurring.

7. Follow up with the employee

Consider following up with the employee to see if they have any new ideas or concerns after dismissing a suggestion. Doing this shows that you care about their suggestions and also believe in their ideas. This demonstrates your commitment to upholding a supportive and productive work environment and your appreciation for their ideas.

Related: 8 Ways to Make Sure Your Leadership Style Isn't Offensive

Remember that it's normal for people to take different stances and approaches, and disagreeing is okay. Your responsibility is to support the upkeep of a positive and effective work environment by handling things respectfully and kindly. You can effectively reject an employee's suggestion without damaging their morale if you use the tips provided in this article. It's critical to be open and direct while expressing gratitude for employees' involvement and inspiring them to continue contributing ideas.

Taiwo Sotikare

Entrepreneur Leadership Network Contributor

CEO of

Taiwo Sotikare helps businesses grow their monthly income x10 through effective content marketing. He creates high-quality SEO content that dominates Google's front page. Businesses can confidently rank for their primary keywords and generate more quality leads.

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