What do you have to do to really empower employees? There is a weekly tip that highlights a frustration shared by many managers. It reads:
“Arrgh!!! I have a few employees that just won’t think for themselves. They are driving me crazy!”
Managers often express some version of this sentiment. Maybe you can relate. If you have a short term solution that lets you keep your sanity I would love to hear it.
The long term solution is to focus employees on the big picture. Describe your vision. Think goals, timing, quality, etc. Paint a clear picture of what you want.
Then, when you are asked to make decisions that they should be able to answer for themselves use a coaching approach. Refer them back to the vision and ask what they think would be best.
A reader responded to my request for solutions that work quickly. She writes:
First, managers have to look at themselves – what did I do that caused employees to not think for themselves? How do you react when an employees makes a decision that’s not perfect or correct? Do you use this as a learning opportunity?
Next talk to the employee to find out why – they’re not making decisions? It could be because of a co-worker or something else.
These are a couple of great ways to be proactive and empower employees. Both alternatives ask that you see, recognize, everything that is a going on. What motivates employees to check in for every decision? Identify all the factors that affect the employees behavior, including your own. Ask yourself how you are contributing to keeping things the way they are. Having people coming to us all the time demonstrates that we are needed. At the same that it frustrates us, at some level it may also reinforce how valued we feel.
What are your thoughts? What else can a manager do to encourage people to think for themselves?