Empowerment: A Mini Masterclass
Empowerment, what does it mean?
I’m contacted often by business leaders to work with their management teams and encourage them to take on the next level of accountability. I hear, “I empower them but they’re just not stepping up” and “How do I get them to empower their team?”
It’s not just about giving them a job and asking them to do it; as this Forbes article clearly states, there is more to it. The three points highlighted are performance, organisational fit and self-worth. I usually wrap these three up into a strategy including motivation and engagement, which ties into the accountability framework.
Stephanie* of Professional Services Pty Ltd (PS) contacted me to help her revise the running of weekly meetings internally to improve communication across the business. “When I’m not in the office, the meeting doesn’t happen. I hear that they Zoom in without cameras and finish early as conversation is limited”. Stephanie said she then receives messages asking questions about topics raised in the meeting.
We talked about why this was occurring, what the value of the meeting was and if it was clearly defined. Throughout this exercise, I learnt that the attendees really felt that it was a meeting to report on their actions, to show their commitment or to demonstrate their effectiveness.
On defining the purpose of the meeting, we established the following key points:
- Ensure the team’s short term goals are aligned with the overarching strategy
- Pick up on key issues as they arise
- Soundboard ways to improve efficiencies
- Pulse-check the team
- WIP top-line reporting
- Address ways of working together to improve service to clients
- Acknowledge sales opportunities
Therefore, the meeting was relevant and important. So, rather than inviting the team to up-date on specifics only, we ensured that the team understood and valued the purpose. By recognising the need to engage, motivate, value the team and share realistic goals, it became clear that preparation was required by all. Whoever led/chaired the session, needed to read the room carefully. This meant questioning, listening and allowing time to be invested. Stephanie did this but didn’t explain or coach her stand-ins to do the same, so the meeting became a tick box session of reporting.
Once we established the result of the lack of direction, it was simple for Stephanie to guide her 2IC. She needed to mentor him to lead more effectively. This resulted in more regular meetings, improved collaboration and up-skilled management. In turn, the management team took this skill to their own meetings.
I often hear that “the team needs to step up” and they will through encouragement, guidance and direction. Good leadership ensures that the next level is being developed at every opportunity.
So next time you hear yourself complaining about someone not being empowered, ask what coaching and mentoring you’ve offered and challenge yourself to lead by example.
*All names are changed