Thought #3: Empower your Team
Responsibility and ownership go hand in hand. When we are given responsibility in the workplace we naturally feel a sense of ownership over things for which we’re responsible. Offering the opportunity for our team members to make independent decisions and encouraging them to do so may help your team go further than you dared to hope. Obviously, you have to use some discretion here because you don’t want to empower the receptionist to make the decisions that belong with a director. However, if we empower our people to begin to make their own decisions, even small ones, we increase their personal investment into the company, the respect they feel they get from us as their manager, and at the same time, we decrease the time we would have had to spend on that same task. WARNING: If you empower your staff, you must be willing to back them when they’ve taken a risk and it goes wrong!
The general rule of thumb here is that if someone else can do the job 80% as good as you, it’s time to hand over the reins. Will it be perfect? Likely, no. But when we first give our children the responsibility of making the bed or emptying the trash, it’s usually far from perfect. However, if we never allow them to learn, they turn into grown adults with no ability to care for themselves! In the same way, great leaders don’t typically come from textbooks, but rather from experience. So we must empower them and allow them to BECOME great, which includes making mistakes along the way and learning. But in the end, if we’ve got the right people on our team, it’s worth the investment!
I once read a story about a man that made a poor business choice that cost the company half a million dollars. When he was called into his boss’ office he was sure it was to receive notice of his termination. You can imagine the man’s surprise as his boss insisted, “I can’t let you go! I just invested half a million dollars into your training!” That shows wisdom.
TAKE ACTION: Take a hard look at what your day looks like vs. that of your team. Are you significantly overloaded while they check their Facebook account on company time? Are they really being challenged to their ability level – not who they are today but who they have the potential to become?
Make a list of some things that you may be able to hand off to a member of your team. Challenge yourself to consider some things that you have always thought would be beyond the grasp of others, and write down the highlights of things that you can envision having to train them on in order for them to be successful. Chose at least one item on your list and start mentoring someone on your team to learn beside you.
Kirsten Smith, founder of Made to Thrive Consulting has over 20 years Business Development and Management experience with small and large organizations alike, including those listed among the Fortune 500.
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