Do you dream of engaged and decisive employees but worry about the mistakes they may make? Are you guilty of stepping in and making decisions for them because it’s “faster” and “safer” but at the same time expecting more commitment and confusing it with them doing overtime?
Being a leader who can empower people is challenging; we know that. We all want to keep our people engaged, decisive, and unafraid of making mistakes. In this article, we want to share 4 steps to keep your people committed through the right decision-making strategy.
Let’s get the ball rolling!
Step 1: Prepare
It is very important to be aware of certain mechanisms when preparing to empower your people:
- A common pattern is to think that “people are not ready to have things delegated to them” or “they are not good enough.” This is how we explain to ourselves that it’s not about us; it’s about our people. This is our fear of giving away ownership – a fear which is not always conscious.
- It’s not enough to jump into a meeting and say: “Now this is your thing; deal with it.” If we plan to empower people, we have to name the field of action, set the goal we want to achieve, and explain how we will support the person responsible for the task.
- Empowering is very close to delegating. What’s important is that you are not supposed to explain HOW to execute tasks but WHAT their goal is.
- As a leader, you are supposed to give people the space to achieve the goal the way they want, not by micromanaging but by providing the full context like a history of similar activities in the company and financial data.
Step 2: Take action
When you’re going to empower your people, you have to remember:
- People are motivated best by tasks that are a little bit more difficult than they can reach currently but not too hard.
- If responsibility is too big, people usually take a step back; they are scared and withdrawn. it’s not about a lack of ambition.
- Ownership – is it always great? Sometimes we may give people too many responsibilities or goals that are too big. This is dangerous because it can lead to burnout, and if you give responsibilities without empowering that person, the risk of burnout is even higher.
- As leaders, you have to be role models: it’s crucial what you do, not what you suggest or declare! It’s your role to name the organization’s values and always follow them. (This is especially important for growing organizations; less than 500 people.)
- The longer you hover around someone, the longer you stop someone’s independence. At the same time – it’s not about leaving people alone, but being around to help if needed but not interrupting them.
Step 3: Face the problems:
When you empower your people, problems usually arise, and it’s a matter of enduring this stage:
- Never say: “Let me do this instead,” to your team. If an employee is struggling with a task, the first temptation is to take it away from them. But being a leader is not about doing everything yourself.
- By stepping into the process, you are giving a signal that you don’t trust your employees and that you feel they will disappoint you. Such a signal weakens their decision-making power and worsens their overall performance.
- Even if we have doubts about the steps the employee is taking, we need to endure this feeling and address our doubts without taking the project or task from this person immediately. We can ask: “Explain to me why you did something this way,” or “By my standards, it should look different. I don’t understand.”
- Don’t compare people to others, never say: “Karen did it better 2 years ago”! According to various research, comparing people is hurtful from both professional and personal perspectives and negatively impacts the quality of work.
- It’s common to be afraid of mistakes your people might make. First, this fear is bigger than reality – the majority of these failures never happen. Second, is that there is no better way to learn than let someone experience that. According to Stanford research, the bigger failure is, the better results you will have next time.
Step 4: “Tick off the checkbox”:
How and when can you know it is done? When is the moment you can say you are “good empower”?
- You know that you are good at empowering your team when you believe in their good intentions. You trust that your employees do everything that is required of them and everything they can in a certain situation.
- You accept the imbalance between your commitment and employees’ commitment. You don’t expect people to be like you.
- You don’t feel the need to control everything. You focus on measuring the effects, not time. You set clear goals and measure them accordingly.
BONUS: Follow the link to download the free infographic with above notes: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1G4DEdq3v_OXsdTGqxoMme23t7FBqBg3_/view?usp=sharing