The Covid 19 Pandemic has drastically impacted the world, changing established norms, and imposing behavioral shifts. With everyone striving to & adapt to newer ways of living and working, people have had to move out of their comfort zones. More so in the world of work and professional situations.
As leaders try to ensure business continuity to ensure that situations come back to pre-covid levels, they are coping with challenges on many fronts. With employees remote work being the norm rather than the exception and no end to the pandemic in sight, leaders are scrambling to stay effective. To drive effectiveness and productivity, business leaders and entrepreneurs need to delegate effectively and empower employees & team members to impact business outcomes. As newer approaches and innovative solutions become mainstream, so must empowerment – this is the best time to democratize the organization and nurture new skills in the organizational culture.
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There are lots of uncertainties in people’s minds and instilling positivity through empowerment can have a significant impact. Working collectively as an empowered team towards a definitive outcome will serve not only as a bonding exercise but also help build a flatter, non-hierarchical structure which will stand their organization in good stead.
Leaders will need to carefully select whom to empower – and then fully trust the person to deliver. As the person entrusted to drive and deliver upon the objective laid out by the leader, the person concerned will have to be briefed properly on the expected outcome and its place in the larger framework of organizational goals. An important fact is that it is not as simple as it sounds…the leader just cannot “empower” the employee concerned and forget about it – No. The leader needs to be involved with and mentor the person concerned while allowing them the space to grow into the role. Let us look at some basic ways in which leaders can drive proper empowerment:
Establish clear guidelines
The chosen person should not operate in an atmosphere of ambiguity – as someone attempting a larger scope of work, the person needs a clear set of boundaries. For example, the scale of decisions he can take and cannot take. The leader needs to explain what the expected outcome is, and what factors can be considered to judge it. Once the framework of guidelines is laid out, make sure you also complete NDA for third party or draft Service Level Agreement. This helps businesses to know how to operate, what decisions to take, how to execute tasks, etc…By giving relevant examples the leader should explain the circumstances under which matters should be escalated, when decisions should be taken and when would be the time to seek inputs or advice. The ensuing clarity would result in better usage of resources, time and personnel by the team member selected.
Provide full clarity on roles
To ensure a smooth functioning, a clarity in roles is fundamental. This will ensure clearer communications, proper decision-making and functions. If one person is empowered to make a decision, the rest of the team needs to be clearly told that the person concerned is responsible for the decision. The authority is solely his. The rest of the team also should be given clarity on what their roles are, with what limits – they can give a perspective, an opinion, or point out loopholes – but they cannot reject or veto the decision, nor can they escalate. Establish this role clarity is essential for effective empowerment and will pay off in times to come, as teams get accustomed to adapting to newer formats, expanded roles and decision-making.
Also Read: Embedding Empathy in the Organization’s DNA
Keep your Distance and say No
There are times, when as a leader, you will need to keep your distance from the team and let them sort out issues on their own. When empowered, sometimes the team may struggle to cope and ask you as a senior leader to step in to take a decision – say no. If they are asking for advice, say no. This could be escalation. As a leader, give them views or options to resolve the issue at hand. You may touch upon how to arrive at a decision, considering all the facts. If the decision cannot be taken by the team, the assigned decision maker has to decide how to escalate.
There can never be a one size fits all approach for developing the capabilities in managers and for employees to be empowered. It may happen that when there are important decisions to be taken, leaders may need to step to direct or take the decision themselves if there is not a capable person around. Developing resilient and stronger capabilities takes time – for decisions that need to be taken in the meantime, careful supervision may be the answer.