Now that you know the importance of information sharing, understanding what a pod is, how teams become the hierarchy and other elements of empowerment, it’s time to launch your company’s empowerment program.
But don’t imagine you can just flip a switch and the new system will work.
Unfortunately, many companies try to achieve empowerment that way; leadership will send out an email saying “Congratulations! You’re Empowered! Have a Nice Day,” and believe their work is done.
Not surprisingly, that doesn’t work.
The most effective way to bring true empowerment to your team is to roll out your plan out gradually, getting input from team members along the way. The reality is, even with the best of ideas, if we do everything at once, that scares people away. In the case of empowerment, we are changing hundreds of years of thinking. And we know that change is hard.
What’s more, asking people to suddenly make decisions and take on new responsibilities they are not ready for can result in costly mistakes – and undermine their confidence.
That is why, in implementing an empowerment program, you have to start by sharing information – all kinds of information. When your team members have the information they need, then you can begin to work with them to create boundaries around decision-making.
Think of the empowerment rollout as similar to raising a child: Little by little you allow your child additional freedoms and responsibilities as they mature and become ready to handle them. You are there alongside them every step of the way, teaching, guiding and setting boundaries.
It is the same with rolling out empowerment in an organization.
Leadership as well as team members must acknowledge that they are on a journey together – and everyone, including the executive team, must be willing to learn as the process unfolds.
In our company, as the process moved along, we invited questions, and we got plenty. People wanted to know, “How do we do performance reviews? Who decides who is promoted, or who gets raises?”
And I’ll be honest: We didn’t have all the answers immediately. There isn’t a book I can go to and look up the answers. So, it takes work, and working and learning together, to resolve some of these questions.
It is also important to remember that departments and team members will react differently to empowerment, and will have their own hurdles to achieving it. Those whose job it is to deliver product, for example, are used to firm deadlines and to black-and-white measures of success or failure. Those team members may resist the idea of implementing an empowerment program a little at a time with a flexible deadline for completion. Again, the key to resolving that discomfort is information sharing, because people will become more comfortable if they know you are sharing what you learn, and that you are keeping them updated on progress.
And remember, too, that training team members to be fully empowered never really stops. When new team members join, they have to be updated on company data, and led through the process just as long-term team members were.
Yes, it’s an ongoing process. But creating team members who feel empowered and trusted – and invested in your company and its success – make the effort more than worthwhile.
About the Author - Thomas Ajspur
Thomas is a seasoned entrepreneur who began working with Microsoft Dynamics 25 years ago as an ERP user and implementer, and then utilized it as the system to run his own business. In 1999, Thomas joined the Microsoft Dynamics Professional Services industry with a focus on building ERP high performance organizations in Europe and the US and is known in the industry for selling large international AX deals. He is CEO of ENAVATE Holdings, LLC.