For the past few weeks, we have been discussing employee enablement in our Culture Hacker blog series. But if you remember in the beginning of our discussion on performance, we mentioned its second important element – performance empowerment. Once they have enabled the team to perform at their best, managers need to get out of the way and let team members do what they were hired to do. Empowered team members not only make decisions about their job, but they also have a form of control to make things happen. But for all the work we put in to getting the best people, onboarding them correctly, training them thoroughly, and enabling their performance, we often fail to truly unleash them to perform on their own, because as managers, we just can’t give up control.
Managers like being in charge, but if they don’t take a step back and empower their people to tackle possible challenges and problems, they will never get the most out of their team. So, get out of the way. Don’t be afraid to let go, because it is the only way managers will become leaders and begin to truly achieve amazing results.
No one is suggesting managers should abdicate all managerial responsibilities and never get involved in the operation, but there does need to be some balance. If managers are too involved in the operation or business it means they are not generally working enough on the operation or business. When managers are in the operation too much, staff will come to rely on them heavily and become distressed or frustrated when they are not around. A manager’s job is to support the team – not to do everything for them. Remember that if managers do the work or make the decisions for their teams, then managers only help the team’s performance today, but by teaching them how to do their own work and make their own decisions, managers help their performance forever.
In some environments, short staffing requires a manager to be in the operation more than necessary, but this should not be a permanent situation. When managers are heavily involved in the operation, their management responsibilities often suffer. Working on the operation means focusing on the big picture and looking weeks and months out to direct the team and business successfully through any challenges it might face. A good leader prepares for difficult days or weeks well in advance of the event occurring, ensuring that the least amount of disruption possible takes place. A good leader will also prepare the team for such challenges by allocating staff and resources as necessary.
Supporting the operation means being there when necessary and continually having a pulse on the business and the people, but also continually leading the company toward its desired results and goals. When the people are empowered, managers must still get out from behind the desk to spend time observing, assessing, and ensuring that high performance is happening.
Empowering the people also means delegating tasks and responsibilities to them. Challenge them to perform up and to take on new tasks. Those who wish to advance should be granted the opportunity to learn basic managerial tasks. The ability to be able to delegate tasks is important for managers when it comes to organizing their time properly. Don’t think that by giving up these tasks that someone is going to take away the management position. Managers have many more important things to do than spending an hour each week to do the schedule or 30 minutes a day reviewing payroll. If a task can be completed 80% as well by someone else, or at least could be, then delegate it.
Robert Swan, world-renowned explorer and the first person to ever walk to both the North and South Poles suggests, “If only one person in the group knows how to navigate, and he or she gets sick, we’re going to get lost. So, somebody else on the team needs to understand navigation and take over that role.” Managers become more indispensable as leaders when they become dispensable. By empowering and enabling their people, managers not only get teams to perform at a higher level but are also able to play the leadership role better.
Thanks for reading. Hopefully this series of blogs on how to enable and empower performance has been helpful. The cultural mechanisms and mindset required to achieve the desired performance are important parts of any leader’s role and any company’s infrastructure.