We’ve all heard that “empowerment” of team members help an organization arrive at results faster. Well, in today’s digital, global economy, high performing teams are a must to creating sustainable results in an organization. And, empowerment is a must in the creation of high performing teams.
Dr. Stephen Covey, in the foreword of Greenleaf’s Servant Leadership, 2002, wrote, “We’ve got to produce more for less, and with greater speed than we’ve ever done before. The only way to do that in a sustained way is through the empowerment of people.”
Over the next decade, organization’s whose leaders have not grasped this understanding and transformed their organizations to create high performing teams will struggle to survive.
It’s a simple concept one would think. Yet, many leaders want to hold onto the power instead of letting it go. It’s all about power and control. It is also about lack of trust of your team members.
When conducting my research for my book, “4 Generations @ Work,” results from over 85% of people who responded said they want to work for someone they trust and they want to be trusted. This is consistent across all industries and all levels of employees from front line to officer. In developing a culture of empowered employees, trust has to come first. Only when a trusting environment exists can your team members feel safe to make decisions on their own and work fluidly as a high functioning team. Only then can they feel safe to be themselves. You have empowered them. Empowerment is energizing.
How do you create a culture of trust? That’s a workshop and long story in itself—one for another day. For now, let’s talk about what it looks like to be empowered.
- All team members, regardless of position or level, have a voice. They feel safe sharing their thoughts and ideas, even when they may contradict what you as their leader has said.
- You share the goal or vision and when it is to be completed, then you let your team decide how they will make it happen. You show trust in them enough to let them decide.
- You encourage people to make intelligent risks to do the right thing, and develop new ways of doing things. Yes, they may make mistakes.
- You tell people to “learn from their mistakes” even sharing what was learned in a team meeting so all can learn. You do not criticize them, especially in front of others, and you do not beat them up. Coach and mentor.
- You assign leadership roles with other team members so they can learn and to let them know you trust them. Most often you will be pleasantly surprised at the results.
- You get out of their way to let them lead and work.
- You continuously share information with all your team members. You practice a high level of transparency in communication and actions. There are no hidden agendas.
- You create more leaders, not followers. You coach and develop all people to have a “leader” mindset. Then everyone is empowered.
- By this time, all your team members are working together as a team. They share with each other—thoughts and work tasks. They speak their minds to you and each other. They share best practices with you and other team members. They pick up a fallen comrade who may be struggling, and help him or her succeed. The team, in turn succeeds at a higher level.
- Employee morale is higher. Things get done faster. Customer experience is improved. Your costs of doing business decreases. Customer loyalty and retention can be arrived at must faster. All these tier directly to the bottom line.
Empowered teams in a high trust environment can accomplish absolutely astounding things.
But, saying you have an empowered work force and truly having one are two totally different things. Your road to developing an organization of empowered teams must be based on practice, not just on talk.
Copyright © 2011 by Patricia Hatley
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Contact Patricia Hatley for consultation, speaking engagements, seminars or workshops, or information on purchasing “4 Generations @ Work” at: www.4generationsatwork.com