Much has been written and said about the art of good management. From the memoirs of great sports coaches to the inspirational quotes of old military leaders, being able to chart a vision and execute it while also managing a variety of personalities can be a tough ask, but always teaches you a great deal.
Of course, there are absolutely worthwhile strategies for implementing worthwhile leadership. One is that of delegation, learning to divide authority and responsibility between those you manage so the load is a little lighter on your shoulders. Trusting those under you, after all, is the premise and main virtue of excellent management.
But once you’ve delegated, how else should you manage? In this post, we’ll discuss how to empower staff, why that’s different from baseline delegation, and the many side benefits this worthwhile approach can offer. If you’re starting a business for the first time, or even considering becoming that military leader or sports coach yourself, we believe you’ll find value in the following insight:
To inspire confidence in those you manage, you must loosen the leash a little bit. This often means trusting them to take the initiative and to grasp autonomy where they can. That might involve arranging a meeting with a client or allowing your trusted staff to move through a building at will with hassle-free ID cards.
Encouraging autonomy isn’t about losing control over your staff, quite the opposite, it’s about trusting them as professionals and staff who may come to learn the intricacies of your business just as well as you do. Autonomy also helps you understand those thriving under your leadership, as they begin to show their true colors and capabilities when trusted to perform a necessary task. As such, it helps both individuals thrive more easily.
Foster Learning and Growth
Ultimately, those you manage can only be empowered if they’re educated and experienced. Otherwise, they have no tangible base from which to work capably. Fostering learning and growth, then, is a good investment of your time and budget.
Regular training seminars that help staff gain new qualifications or capabilities will help them analyze situations and be able to operate independently of constant approval from the higher-ups where that’s acceptable. This can even be expressed in the most lateral but also essential means - for example, staff training in first aid could potentially save someone’s life in your office. That’s how important this kind of training and investment is, and moreover, it will encourage your staff to remain at your company over time.
Sure, we know communicating with staff is important, but it’s rarely said just how important this practice is. Effective communication is more than just giving instructions, it’s about regular reviews with your staff.
It’s also about connecting with them through team building activities, providing worthwhile platforms of communication such as apps like Slack or Teams, so video conferences can take place in a matter of moments.
Communication is also about implementing healthy policies for how customer support staff especially should communicate with and instruct customers or clients. This gives them the comfort of working within certain parameters, even if they’re not usually on the front line of talking to customers regularly (even office staff can come across those in the retail section of a store, after all). When you trust your staff with empowered communication, you can ensure they conduct themselves in the healthiest manner possible.
Trust and Respect
It’s important to note that trust and respect in a professional environment is often unique compared to other social relationships. After all, your staff don’t have to necessarily like you or think of you as a great friend in order to respect your decisions, feel that you treat them fairly and respectfully and that you have their careers in mind when you help develop their potential.
As such, identifying where that trust lies is important. It may come from defending your staff, ensuring accountability measures are fair and never implemented without stringent communications, and also being consistent in your training and never implementing favoritism within the ranks.
They should also know that you’re a boss first, a colleague second, and while a friendly face, not necessarily someone who has to be given approval on a personal level. What does that mean? Well, we know that bosses who try to be a little too friendly and validated by those under them tend to lose respect because they’re less capable and competent than they could be otherwise. As such, empowering people often means acting and serving as the figurehead they both expect and hope you to be.
One important element of leading people is knowing that you’re human too, and you can’t lead others in every single thing at every single time. Often, you need support, outside resources, and considerations that help you do the job as best you can.
So for example, if you run a team you might also liaise with a mental health service that can help serve as a private and confidential method of raising complaints, finding support when needed if struggling, and being more able to deal with the rigors of a job. This way, you can connect those you’re responsible for with people willing and able to help, as opposed to just assuming everything will be fine and dandy because you’ve empowered them.
In other words, true empowerment comes from understanding the basic needs of those under you, and providing for them, even when those needs may not be primarily focused on the task at hand. That approach will ensure a healthy outcome and the means to make a tangible difference.
With this advice, you’ll be better at empowering your staff or team without necessarily stealing all the time away from you that you need to make considered decisions regarding the direction of the organization or effort. This goes above and beyond delegation, even though delegation is a part of it. In the long run, you’ll be thankful for the effort you yourself went to, and valuable lessons will be learned from the approach.
—End of collaborative post—