Being a manager often means that your achievements depend largely on the achievements of your team. It stands to reason then that the more empowered they are, the bigger the benefits for you, them and the business.
What is ‘Empowerment’?
Not to be confused with delegating tasks or responsibilities, ‘empowerment’ involves giving the authority or power to do something, which can lead to people becoming stronger and more confident.
Just think back to a time when you have felt empowered – either in your personal or professional life. Motivation is high, ambition is a driving force and morale and mindset are focused. Now multiply this impact within a team, a department, an organisation and empowerment suddenly becomes a huge differentiator.
Incredible change happens in your life when you decide to take control of what you do have power over, instead of craving control over what you don’t.
What are the Influencing factors?
You may be thinking ‘This all sounds great, but my organisation doesn’t allow me to empower my people!’, and you may be right; to a degree. Sure, the culture may not be perfect and the top-down influence of the leadership team may leave a lot to be desired, but don’t underestimate the individual impact that you can make as a people manager!
Identify the blockers and barriers, then work out which you can address and influence yourself. We see a lot of managers espousing the virtues of empowerment, however they refuse to relinquish control for various reasons such as fear of failure – a valid risk – but consider the benefits of a controlled risk, and if things do go wrong, what can be learned for next time?
Where to start?
Here are our top 5 tips to get you started!
1. Build Trust (over time)
Developing a sense of empowerment within your team will take time; there is no silver bullet and it won’t happen overnight. Spend time with people and support them both professionally and personally (where appropriate). Ask questions and really listen to what they have to say. Learn what makes each person tick and tune in to how they each communicate and adapt your style accordingly to build relationships with trust as the foundation.
2. Give Them Boundaries
We should all know where the boundaries and parameters are. What do you expect people to get on with, without permission or input from you and where should they check-in? Build up and extend the boundaries gradually and generously.
3. Believe In Them and Provide Challenge
As trust builds and boundaries are established, you must also demonstrate a belief in people and their abilities. This is an excellent time to highlight the importance of coaching and feedback to pinpoint all the strengths that can be leveraged and what can be built on and developed going forward. Create an open and constructive environment for progression and challenge, and encourage people to challenge you back.
4. Invest in People and Their Development
You need to speculate to accumulate! Invest both money and time in formal and informal development. Think about 70:20:10; how can people develop on-the-job, from others and formally? Yes, it may be easier for you to take charge and control in the short-term (“If you want something done right, do it yourself!”), however it doesn’t help you or the team in the long-term. We all know and appreciate this, but often don’t act upon it.
5. Remember the Interpersonal / Soft Skills
Following on from number four, it’s all too easy to focus on the technical training needs of your team and overlook the importance of interpersonal skills. When you’re deciding on where to invest in, consider a rounded approach and provide development in key areas such as communication, presentation skills and resilience (to name but a few!).