Empowering Your Team
An empowered team performs in a completely different way to how a traditional team operates. Empowering your team is replacing traditional forms of corporate hierarchy, where team members report back to whoever is boss.
An empowered team has increased levels of responsibility and authority over their workload, with self-motivated individuals independently planning and managing work, taking full ownership of their actions and decisions.
The role of leadership is evolving into a broad and more open approach in the workplace. However, empowerment doesn’t take complete control from the leader as guidelines, objectives, tasks and expectations are still set from the top. Additionally, employees will correspondingly look for encouragement, praise, support and guidance from you as their support mechanism and supervisor.
A team, of course, is made up of individuals. So, the main aim of empowering your team is for team members to then empower themselves independently. In other words, an empowered team will only be successful if team members are prepared and willing to take on the extra responsibilities that empowerment brings. This licence encourages individuals to abandon self-interest and actively serve their organisation instead of themselves. Nevertheless, a newly empowered team will require more guidance to begin with, however adopting this flat structure will be beneficial in the long-run.
Some major benefits from this team framework are increased commitment from employees as they can make the work their ‘own’, and therefore results in increased productivity, motivation, effective decision making, constant improvement and personal development and cost savings.
Delegating power isn’t so straightforward. Teams won’t be 100% efficient unless they understand the bigger picture and know exactly what they are working towards and why. Act with integrity and share basic information such as finance, expenditure, sale figures, key projects, economic values and organisational objectives, as well as the organisation's limitations and constraints. Progress meetings are great opportunities to share this information. Remember – a leader is the link between your team and organisation, so enlighten your team members with a deeper understanding of where they stand and how they can align their goals with those of the entire organisation.
Clear and definite communication is key for setting tasks and boundaries. Nurture an environment that encourages self-expression, honesty and trust. When assigning projects and tasks within an empowered team, make your expectation of the end product clear so they can work independently from real-time direction from management. Setting explicit boundaries is extremely important so employees can work in a manner that they see fit within the parameters they have been set. Supply your team with an assortment of answers they can be authorized to choose from, rather than one single solution. Results come at an expense – so trust your team and let them own projects and see them through to completion.
It is your role as a supervisor to help team members reach an empowered state, so frequently support your team and provide regular feedback. In terms of support, team members are bound to make mistakes. Approach them with a positive mind-set and take this as an opportunity to effectively coach and train them to make better decisions next time. Actively exercise your leadership and coaching skills.
As a leader it is important to know how you are doing too. So try to rework your system of performance appraisal. Give them responsibility for evaluating their own performance (Self-Appraisal) and additionally evaluate their direct supervisor (YOU).
In summary, empowerment is extremely powerful when it’s done right. Empowering your team involves promoting innovation, collaboration and treating mistakes as learning opportunities. Create a working environment for flexible dialogue within your team where individuals accept challenges in the spirit of continual wisdom. Praise and encouragement from you as a leader is extremely important, especially if team members have recently taken on new responsibilities. This boosts their confidence as you are essentially acknowledging their good work and trust them to be working on team tasks.