Empowering Your Employees to Make Decisions
The word, “empower,” means to give the authority or power to do something. It also can mean to make someone stronger and more confident.
As managers/leaders, we have the responsibility to empower our employees. However, the reality is that the majority of employees are not empowered to make decisions. Instead, the company policy and/or culture make decision-making a multi-layer process that requires forms, documentation, and numerous signatures. As a result, few decisions get made, and those decisions that do get made are typically slow to transpire.
Many of us state to our customers, and even to ourselves, that our employees are empowered to do whatever it takes to make the customer happy. In reality, the employees are afraid of making decisions and getting in trouble or being reprimanded for doing what, in the manager’s eyes, was a wrong decision.
So how can we give our employees the right tools to make the right decisions and, therefore, feel empowered? Here are some suggestions:
Require accountability: People need to know when they are meeting expectations and, more importantly, when they are not. No one will maintain accountability if they don’t understand the consequences of failure. And if they see others not being held accountable, they will see little need to make the extra effort for success. Be consistent and diligent in your measurement and rewards so employees are motivated to do their best.
Another thing to be done when allowing employees to make decisions is to examine processes and carefully decide where there is room for lateral movement. By identifying these areas, and matching them with groups of employees in the correct departments, you will sponsor a feeling of ownership and responsibility that will have positive long-term effects on your business. It could prove to be a comfortable feeling in the event you cannot be at the helm for a time due to reasons beyond your control.
Conduct weekly training sessions with your employees: Your employees can’t be empowered if they’re not properly trained on all aspects of the business. Therefore, have weekly training sessions with front-line employees and managers to allow for role-playing and discussion. During these sessions, review such things as the company’s goals,
mission, vision, and culture. Role-play possible decision-making scenarios so employees get a sense of what may transpire and how their decisions affect the company. Be sure not to berate or embarrass anyone for making a bad decision during these role-play exercises.
Remember, this is a time for learning. Also realize that just because the decision the employee made isn’t the one you would make doesn’t make the decision wrong. Often, more than one solution exists for a problem.
Acknowledge the special skills and talents your employees possess: Everyone has special skills and talents that they bring to the table. Know what those are for each member of your team. When you allow your employees to use their strengths and creativity, they often will amaze you. The key is uncovering what those strengths are. Therefore, make it a point to meet with employees as people, and not as employees, from time to time. Use those informal get-togethers as a time to find out more about them. By doing so, you’re empowering your people to take an interest in the company and feel more confident with their decisions. Confidence is essential to making good decisions.
Support their independence: A leader who constantly is looking over the shoulder of employees is little more than a babysitter. Give your employees reasons and opportunity to stretch out on their own and even lead others. They may stumble, but they'll learn a lot and build the respect of their colleagues while preparing to be great empowering leaders themselves someday.
Consistently express appreciation and give rewards to people: The greatest human desire is the need to feel appreciated. When people feel truly appreciated, they are eager to take on responsibilities and they want the company to succeed. Make it a habit to thank people, even for small milestones. The thank you could be a simple handwritten note or a big party for a job well done. Also, recognize special events, such as birthdays and anniversaries, and give rewards when appropriate. Find out what types of appreciation and rewards will motivate your staff and dole them out freely. This shows employees that you value them, which will make them eager to go the extra mile and make smart decision
Keep in mind that Empowered Employees = Happy Customers and a successful operation.
Take the time and effort and start empowering your team today.
Dulce Gonell is a Training account manager at Signature Worldwide, a Dublin, OH-based company offering sales and customer service training, marketing, and mystery shopping services for a variety of service-based industries. For more information, call 800.398.0518 or visit www.signatureworldwide.com. You also can connect with Signature on Twitter @SignatureWorld and on Facebook.