Too many managers still have problems letting go and holding onto work they should or could delegate. By empowering your employees you will be surprised at the power you can unleash as well as the time you will gain.
Empowering people literally means giving them the power or authority to get something done whilst you still retain ultimate responsibility. So, how can you do this effectively? Read on to find out five key ways to do so.
1. Agree upon a project they can undertake
By agreeing upon a project there is a greater chance that it will motivate as well as empower them to get it done. To find the right project that will spark their imagination you might want to ask which parts of their job they enjoy the most. You could also ask them what they would like to improve in the job given the chance.
Once you have found something you will need to assess what support they might need to see it through to the end. For example do they have any experience or organising skills to get on with it? Also consider whether they are natural ‘starters’ or ‘finishers’. A natural ‘starter’ will be very enthusiastic at the beginning and then might get bored and not see it through. This is not a criticism, just part of their behavioural style. Other people may not be good at getting things going, yet they are very good at completing once it has begun. You can usually tell this through observation of existing tasks or simply by asking them. Whatever is missing you may need to provide to help them be successful.
2. Increase their current level of authority
Consider which parts of your job your team members rely upon you to make a decision. For example are you responsible for signing off certain purchases (even stationery) or expenses in the team? By putting the proper controls and guidelines in place this authority can be delegated. As you retain ultimate responsibility you will need to have a robust system of monitoring from time to time. Also make sure that the person doing the task knows that you will be doing so just as part of your role and not because you don’t trust them!
3. Seek their opinion
Participative management can be very inspirational. When people in your team are asked their opinion on specific areas or problems they feel valued, involved and motivated. Be sure to take their opinions and suggestions seriously and be prepared give them a go just to see what happens. Even if it doesn’t work out it can be a great learning experience. If it does work then you have learned something.
4. Give them responsibility for looking after a section or specific customer
As businesses grow you may need to hand over responsibility for whole sections or even liaison with certain customers to somebody within the team. Who knows they may even do a better job than you. This will enable you to focus on other more strategic demands as you look to the future.
5. Let go and trust them!
This really sums up everything we have said about empowerment. Develop trust in your people by making sure they are ready to be given the chance to fly. If you just delegate without being clear of your expectations and don’t provide any measure or support then both you and your staff could be heading for a fall. Show that you are prepared to trust them and let them get on with it whilst still being around in the background should they need you.
This is your opportunity to grow a team that feel competent and confident. It helps to develop a team that can cope without you, letting you take time off without worrying that it will all collapse when you’re not there. This is a sign of a good leader.
Head of Training
Originally published: 8 May, 2013