Empowerment seems to be a real buzzword at the moment, but it is so much more than just that. Empowerment is an important strategic business solution that can and should be implemented in any industry, at any size company. The definition of the word seems to vary depending on who is talking about it, for some empowerment just means to delegate the responsibility of a task, to trust and let go. In many target-driven organizations empowerment appears to be similarity between giving a person a target and then in exchange leave the person alone to deliver.
At COD we have a different approach towards empowerment. Trust is obviously an important part, in fact it is the foundation of true empowerment but is also about finding common agreements on how to handle situations before they get critical between a manager and a coworker. Empowerment needs to embrace a solution to avoid silo-solutions or individual attempts so solve all close-to problems alone. Many have faced the situation when the person “got empowered” tried his/her outmost to solve the issue, constantly pretending having everything under control without involving their manager or someone else. At the end the issue turns to a real problem or even disaster, due to not asking for support enough. The manger, together with the co-worker that is going to “be empowered” must clarify how the co-worker shall update and involve the manager and others to secure high transparency and areas where the need of support is the most important. Obviously, this is a bilateral process that secures both parties understanding, behaviors and actions going forward.
Empowerment must be transmitted to and imprinted to the whole team’s work not just some few. One of the most basic ways to empower coworkers is to invite all the employees and give them a voice in decisions that is affecting them. Employees that feel like they have some control over their work environment and have an increased sense of ownership tends to be more satisfied and engaged in their work. The acceptance of a solution is just as, if not more important than the quality to make sure it is executed to reach a desired result.
Empowerment is a mindset which is built upon the view that approval and control have to be replaced by cross-functional solutions and accountability. Trust, openness and transparency is the antidote against micro-management and control. An empowering leader can make a positive impact on the corporate culture and is a great asset at the workplace. Mindset is a set of thoughts and believes that make us act, think and behave in any given situation. We can all train our attitudes and mindset corporate culture on the other hand cannot be decided. It is the result of all individual mindsets and consequent behavior, therefore all people in an organization must be empowered to secure the cultural change.
From a business perspective hiring skilled and experienced people and then not support them to develop and use their skills for the best of the business, is just a waste.
It is time to change this for several reasons. One, this is an asset that should be used to optimize the company´s performance. Two, you better change this fast if you want to attract, develop and keep your good people. Three, leaders that micro-manage their people are not particularly effective and the correlation with rising numbers of burn-outs are obvious.