Flatten and Empower
Responsibility and accountability are actually fuel for empowerment of employees.
When an organization fat with middle management and supervisory levels, decides to flatten they have a tremendous opportunity. I love the example in Zapped! The Lightning of Empowerment by William C. Byham with Jeff Fox.
One middle manager, Biff Buffer, was living with the fear of knowing that his middle management job was on the chopping block and the day came when his boss called him into her office. But the conversation didn’t go the way he thought it would go.
Instead of shooing him out the door, she offered him a challenge. Would he be interested in taking on the RESPONSIBILITY for building a team to develop new businesses and revenue streams for the company? All of a sudden, Biff was on fire. He knew that he would be accountable for the output and results of his team.
Although the word has become almost trite, Biff felt empowered. He wanted to make a difference and this was the opportunity for him to show what he could do. But it wasn’t just him, it would be a team. He might be the leader of the team, but he was also a member and the success of the endeavor rested on all their shoulders.
Giving Biff a new purpose and the resources to be successful was good for him and good for the organization. But that isn’t the only way to light fires with employees.
What this story means for you
Help employees identify their strengths and then let them USE THEM! That’s right. Why continually push a pumpkin to jam and jostle through a slot meant for a carrot when it would be more natural to let the carrot slide in there and let the pumpkin roll through the opening made for them?
When people work to their strengths, their confidence soars and work is accomplished faster, more accurately and, yes, even happier! AND, when they are asked to do something that is not in their wheelhouse, they are more apt to try it and do it the best way they can. In fact, some new tasks may actually become something they like and want to take on more often.
Even if you are tired of the words, employee empowerment is something you will never get tired of, and neither will they.
To Your Success!