It’s no secret that good managers equal happier and more productive teams.
So just appoint good managers, right? If only it was that straightforward.
The issue is that there isn’t a definitive formula for what makes a good manager. Human nature dictates that people arrive into management roles with different experiences, ideas, and conscious and unconscious biases. It’s subjective too, different people value different qualities in a manager meaning that no one can get it right 100% of the time.
One thing most people agree on though is that taking an approach of micromanaging is rarely conducive to creating a positive and effective team.
Whereas, to empower your team is to enable them to make decisions, take action and work autonomously.
If you look to some of the world’s most successful business leaders there’s a common theme when they talk about their achievements - they know they’re only as strong as their team.
But what practical steps can you take to ensure your team are empowered for success?
GAIN BUSINESS BUY-IN
Empowerment doesn’t just come from one person, it needs to come from the entire business. Are all of your functions on board - Finance and HR, for example? It’s essential to have buy-in from the top down to create a true culture of empowerment.
SHARE BUSINESS OBJECTIVES
Every single person in your business should know exactly what they are collectively working towards and how their role fits in. By ensuring everyone is clear on their defined roles, they’ll feel a sense of importance and are therefore motivated to contribute towards the bigger goal. Be honest and transparent through good and bad; fostering a mutual relationship of trust is critical to success.
As often as possible, ask your teams for their feedback and input. Not only is it extremely valuable to obtain opinions from those on the ground - those are the people who are dealing with your customers, making your products, or providing your service, but in doing so, employees will feel listened to, valued, and respected.
Give employees the confidence, resources, and permission to make their own decisions, manage their own workload, and resolve issues (within reason). Again, not only do employees feel motivated by this act of trust and respect, but it also makes for a better experience for your customers, increased productivity, and quicker turnaround times.
This doesn’t mean you need to give people free rein with an unlimited budget or the ability to make business-critical decisions without any input. If this is new, start small and set clear parameters for them to work within. For example, try letting them take ownership for a defined project and ensure you praise and feedback afterwards, or give them a budget to use at their discretion when handling customer complaints - so more issues can be resolved without escalation.
TRAINING & DEVELOPMENT
Line managers should spend time with their team members on a 1-1 basis to understand their personal career goals. For those individuals that want to further their career, clear routes should be provided in order to maintain their commitment in the medium to longer term. Recognising that people’s individual goals are important (as well as team and company goals) is a great way to boost engagement.
KNOW WHEN TO MUCK IN
Don’t confuse empowerment as simply a form of delegation. Part of being a strong leader is the ability to know when to step in and help, which is one of the reasons that ‘home-grown’ managers are often the most effective - they’ve done the job and they understand the pressures the team face. Empathy is key.
A great leadership mantra is to take more of the blame and less of the credit.
It can often be a challenge to relinquish control or to accept that someone else might go about something differently to you. Perhaps something goes wrong - the important thing to do is to communicate about what happened and what can be learnt. This way, you continue to nurture the culture of empowerment whilst addressing any issues.