When you delegate tasks to your staff, they do not automatically assume that they are empowered to deliver them, often they need to be explicitly told that they are also empowered.
Without empowerment they don’t feel accountable for the task, they just feel responsible for following the instructions given, and if that doesn’t lead to success then it’s clearly not their fault. And if I’m honest, they’re right.
Often when reviewing why things failed, one of the questions that come up is “if you knew what needed to be changed for this to be successful, why didn’t you do it” and the answer that is often received is “I didn’t know I was authorized to make that change”.
This is all about empowerment.
When you empower someone you give them the authority to do whatever is needed for the task to be successfully completed. You move from holding them accountable for outcomes, rather than just performing tasks, which has a significant impact on mindset,
When people feel that they have the authority to make changes; then they are much more likely to accept accountability and ownership for ensuring success, and when they accept accountability for success the probability of achieving it has significantly increased.
Empowerment is not about removing limits and giving them a free hand, it’s often about setting limits.
Giving clear boundaries within which where they are free to make decisions.
It’s often this lack of clear boundaries that stop people from feeling empowered and being successful.
For example, I tell someone that they need to hire a temp by Friday and we’re happy to pay up to $50 per hour.
This means that they are free to hire without coming back to me, providing the costs are within the limits set.
I have often seen simple tasks fail because the limits weren’t clearly set and hence people didn’t feel empowered to make a decision.
No one was hired even though they had found someone at a rate of $45 per hour and they didn’t know this was ok and looked for approvals which didn’t come in time.
Also, if we don’t set limits then people may make decision that exceed what we would like, e.g, they hire someone for $60 per hour.
In both cases the task was not successfully completed and in neither case does the person feel accountable for the failure.
Although this is a simplistic example, it is important to understand the importance of empowerment and the benefits it can delive.
As I say people do not naturally assume they are empowered when we assign them tasks, some people need to be explicitly told they are empowered.
If you can empower people when you assign them tasks, then they are more likely to accept accountability and this significantly increases the chance of success.
If you’re looking to increase empowerment then email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange a complimentary strategy to see how we can help.