Empowering your employees

I never understood why a manager would want to micro-manage his/her employees.  Doesn’t that just defeat the purpose of hiring people to be on your team?  Isn’t the point of a team to have each member work on their own perspective parts and then pull those parts together in the end to accomplish a goal?  Maybe I am missing something when it comes to teamwork then.

I am lucky enough to be on a team now where employees are empowered to do their job… not just empowered in the sense of saying an employee is empowered, but by actually being allowed to do my job without having to double check every fine detail by my manager.  Now don’t get me wrong… my manager is still there for guidance and to teach me things that I may not know yet, but she isn’t looking over my shoulder and watching everything that I do.  I have not always been this lucky though.  There have been plenty of times where I have been on the other side of workforce.  Having to “check in” with my manager and make sure that I am doing everything the way he/she would do.  At that point, as the employee who is being micro-managed, I want to look at my manager and ask them “Why did you ask me to do this if you are doing the whole thing with me?  Wouldn’t our time be best served by the old ‘divide and conquer’ method?”

Maybe it isn’t that managers want to micro-manage, maybe they are just scared that an employee would not be able to do something correctly, or maybe they are worried about letting go of the control that they have-which they lose some of that when they cannot detail out every step that you take to complete the task.  Either way, they do micro-manage and it does

Here are some ways to empower your employees:

  1. Give them projects/assignments/tasks to complete.
  2. Explain the task, why it was given to them and what they will get out of it. (since most people are only in it to get something out of it-and more than just a paycheck)
  3. GIve clear directions and objectives of the task
  4. Have them repeat it back to you so that you KNOW they understand the task. (Which hopefully will put those control freaks a little at ease knowing that the person doing the task is on the same page as you are)
  5. Explain what the major steps are and why.
  6. Let them know that you trust them and that they can come to you for help if needed.  This means you cannot check up on them each day but must have faith in them to complete the task at hand.
  7. Ask them if they have questions/suggestions on how to accomplish the task.  Getting the opinion of someone who isn’t as close to the task is a good way to see if there is an overlap in steps, a quicker way to get the task done (without cheating) or things that may have been overlooked.

Something that you have to think about when you take the step to empower your employees is that you empower the RIGHT employees for the RIGHT tasks.  One major mistake that I see managers make is that they finally decide to empower an employee, but they empower an employee to the wrong task.  You can’t ask your employee that is in charge of billing to make sure that a marketing project gets done, nor can you empower a sales person to come in run your IT department… but you can empower a lower level marketing person to take over an upcoming tradeshow to show him/her the whole process for a tradeshow: registering for the show, setting up the show, managing the show and analyzing the outcome of the show.  It gives him/her the insight into the whole process so that he/she can learn how that plays a role in the companies profitability.

When I thought about writing something on this -since I have heard from many people that they are not empowered by their managers to do anything- I first googled “Issues with empowering your employees” to see if there were proven issues that go along with empowering your employees. I did find a lot of articles (as you most often do when you google just about anything) but none of them pointed to issues that arose from empowering the right employees.

So remember, a TEAM is defined as:  any group of people organized to work together interdependently and cooperatively to meet the needs of their customers by accomplishing a purpose and goals. So empower your employees to work on YOUR team to accomplish the TEAM goals.

Anyone have any other suggestions/benefits/issues with empowering employees?  If you do, I would love to hear them.

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