Successful empowerment is a must in any organization. Of course, leaders don’t have time to do everything themselves, but those who fail to empower their people pay a price in costly project delays, budget over-runs, crew turnover, or worse.
To be clear, empowering employees is simply giving them the authority to do something. Sounds easy, but it’s not. Empowering them properly takes time and a focused, intentional effort.
However, the benefits of successfully empowering others are clear:
- Employees become more productive because decisions can be made quickly.
- They feel more engaged and included, resulting in less staff turnover.
- You build trust, confidence, and independence while nurturing a culture of shared responsibility.
- You use empowerment to educate and nurture future leaders.
- You demonstrate your ability to lead well and attract the best employees.
Empowering others requires you to take responsibility to teach, train, coach, and mentor your people in advance of empowering them. Two ways to accelerate the empowerment process are role playing and inclusion.
Role playing is a way to practice a scenario before it happens in real time. It requires:
- Creating an environment in which people feel safe.
- Selecting relevant and realistic situations to role play.
- Asking participants what went well and what could have been improved.
- Providing constructive feedback.
If your team is averse to role playing, then don’t call it that! Instead, call it professional development practice and allow them to safely make mistakes in a training room instead of on the job.
Inclusion means including people who wouldn’t normally be involved in novel situations. Think of a young child being asked by Mom or Dad to help bake a cake or work in the garden. How exciting it feels to be included!
At work, you might include employees in conversations with a customer about, say, a scope change, or invite them to a senior management meeting without expecting them to contribute.
As a leader, it’s up to you to prepare your people to become empowered. Actively participating in role playing and inclusion is a good start.