Once again, we’ve been talking about empowering our employees. Last time, I mentioned that not every employee or team can be empowered where they are extended the trust and the necessary resources to execute on a particular task, project, or objective. How do managers assess the worthiness of an employee or team to extend that level of trust?
When conducting the National High Tech Management Study that led to my writing Gearing Up For the Fast Lane: New Tools for Management (Random House) in 1993, we uncovered specific characteristics by surveying over 1000 workers and interviewing 300 executives and HR professionals. These characteristics still endure and apply to all involved in the empowering organization:
- An unrelenting willingness and ability for all to do what they say they will do
- A commitment toward keeping higher-ups voluntarily informed
- A welcoming and consistent atmosphere of availability both up and down the organization
- A proactive attitude along with a willingness to admit errors and accept responsibility
- A possession of good self-evaluation skills
- An understanding to appropriately use money, time, space, personnel, and other resources
- A potential or demonstrated expertise in the area of control that is under consideration
Managers need to be confident about their decisions and ready to tolerate mistakes by those they are empowering. Managers also need to be able to stay out of the way, especially when it comes to how the empowered employee or team goes about achieving the task or project. It’s also the manager who needs to be self-assured and confident enough to share the glory by giving due credit to those who did the work.
More than ever, activating empowerment in today’s times is an essential leadership skill – especially given those recognition- hungry Millennials who are in the workforce and who are desirous of being challenged and want to have opportunities where they have a part to play in the department’s and organization’s success.