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One of the most consistent findings in teamwork science is that individual, group and team empowerment—giving people more control over their daily work lives—has a strong positive impact on a wide range of business measures, including profit. There is a natural tendency among managers to try to prove themselves by giving directions. But the research and such noted business thinkers as Ken Blanchard (The One-Minute Manager) make clear that a leader can gain more by doing less in that area. In simple terms, a leader must decide what needs to be done, and then is best off leaving the how to the team and providing the resources it says it needs to get the job done.
Possible steps include:
- Over time, give the team full authority over its internal procedures, the process it uses to achieve the goals, and administrative tasks such as hiring, decision-making, etc.
- Share with the team all the business information you would want if making the decisions you delegate to the team—including financial information.
- Allow the team extra meeting time and soft-skills training for continuous improvement efforts.
- Accept team decisions as long as they are in line with the agreed-upon goals and do not violate laws, ethics, regulations, or company policies.
- Suggest best practices, but make clear through your words, nonverbal behaviors, and actions that the team is not expected to adopt your suggestions.
- Let the team make mistakes.
- React to mistakes as positive events: They're the best learning tools the team will have.
- Once it has experience making decisions, give the team a budget for any resources needed to achieve its plan and let it decide how to spend them.
To embrace empowerment: