1) To move quickly and vigorously; 2) To erase or change (an item in a program); 3) A strong emotional reaction.
Apply just one empowering people policy. The only people policy an organization needs is: use your own best judgment; do what is right for the customer and company. Do not use policies as “scar tissue on an error” – punishing all
employees forever after in the wake of one individual who made a mistake. Designing the perfect Rule Book is no guarantee that errors will not be made again.
Remove bureaucracy. When otherwise productive and innovative people become buried under top-heavy bureaucracies and unreasonable regulations, we squeeze the life blood out of the exact qualities organizations need for long-term survival. Layers of rules cause soured attitudes, dried-up motivation, resignation on-the-job, anger and worse.
Stay away from the “inertia of cultural resistance”. In under-performing workplaces, people have long ago given up trying to offer their employers any inventiveness or creative spark. “What’s the point?” they question. “We’ll only get shot down anyway.” Imagine what is possible if we give people instead the freedom to perform in ways that energize and engage their very best skills and talents.
Apply deliberate action to create soul-inspiring environments. Soul-inspiring environments do not happen by accident, but through a set of dedicated actions designed to build an extraordinary workplace. If one truly seeks to build ingenuity and resourcefulness, then efforts need to be focused on creating cultures that eliminate inane restrictions. Give people the latitude required for superior performance.
Distinguish between accountability and responsibility. Leaders cannot suddenly wave a wand and declare: “You are now accountable.” Such abdication of responsibility is as dangerous as over-control. Both are flip sides of the same coin. Encourage team members to take on greater responsibility through gradual delegation, training and coaching. Without authority, people will shun accountability.
Install people-centric daily practices. Organizational systems (both informal and formal systems like planning, structuring, recruiting, selecting, hiring, training, rewarding, communicating, decision-making) must be aligned to support vision/values. Inconsistencies between high-performance objectives and corporate rules of the game are huge inhibitors to transformation.
Define how you want to treat people. Create from a blank slate a set of Philosophy Statements delineating how you want to treat people and have them feel about their workplace. Spend your time “reinforcing” these. These statements would reflect such important messages as: respecting everyone regardless of title, welcoming all ideas and how to communicate positively.
Monitor strictly your own words and actions. Leaders’ own words and actions are the make-it or break it ingredient in our zapping mix. Empowering leaders see themselves more as coaches and champions than controllers and decision-makers. They believe in self-directed teams and pave the way by providing guidance and clearing roadblocks. They expect and get the best from others.
Empower in the truest sense of the word. Empowerment is not something you do to people, though it is often defined and executed as such. Empowerment is nurtured by creating an environment where every employee is supported to do what it takes to satisfy customers – thus illustrating the powerful connection between satisfied employees, contented customers and the bottom-line.
Questions For Reflection
How would you describe your expectations of those you lead and how might that be influencing their performance?
To what extent do you let your team decide on its own approach to assignments?
How do you get in the way of your team? What can you do about this right now?