Empowering Team Members Can Be a Disaster If You Don't Do This
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They say, trust your employees, give them the power to make important decisions, and more importantly, never micromanage, right?
Well ... this sounds great on paper, but doesn't really cut it in reality.
Look, there's no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to empowering employees. The above might work on some of your employees, but I can bet you a million bucks that it'll backfire with others.
Not everyone has the skills to be a leader, make tough decisions or solve complex problems. And that's fine. All you need to do is to adapt your leadership style to fit the different types of employees you have.
With this model, you're evaluating your employees based on their competence and commitment, and using these two components to determine your leadership style.
Here's how it works
1. Put your employees in these four buckets.
Do a mental assessment of your employees, and group them into one of the four categories below. Depending on how big your company is, you can either do this by teams, by departments or even by individual employees.
Enthusiastic Beginners: Low skilled employees who show strong commitment to their work, but needs a lot of guidance.
Disillusioned Learners: Somewhat competent employees who show low commitment to their work due to challenges faced.
Capable but Cautious Performers: Reasonably competent employees who show various levels of commitment to their work.
Self-Reliant Achievers: Highly competent employees who show strong commitment to their work.
Related: 50 Rules for Being a Great Leader
Now here's how you put this into action:
2. Employ different leadership styles depending on the employees' category.
Now that you've identified which categories your employees fall in, adopt the appropriate leadership style for each category.
Enthusiastic Beginners: Directing leadership
With this group of people, your leadership should be high on directing behaviors, and low on supporting behaviors. Tell your employees exactly what to do, and how to go about doing it.
Issuing clear and non-negotiable directions is what's best for employees at this stage. The people in this category need a clear sense of direction -- this will help them complete their tasks and improve their skills.
At my company we create documents with a step-by-step process that these employees can follow to get things done. But, we also make ourselves available for any questions they might have.
Disillusioned Learners: Coaching leadership
When it comes to the Disillusioned Learners, you'll need to provide leadership that is high on both directing and supporting behaviors. These guys aren't complete newbies, but they need your guidance and direction to improve further.
When dealing with these employees, you're still telling them what to do. At the same time, you should also be receptive to them, and give them the support that they need to buy into the process.
Setting up time to regularly talk to them is key to keep them motivated and accountable.
Capable but Cautious Performers: Supporting leadership
To transform this group of employees into Self-Reliant Achievers, show leadership that is low on directing behaviors and high on supporting behaviors.
These employees are competent at their jobs, so you can let go of the reins and engage in shared decision-making. Make sure you validate their efforts and acknowledge their work -- this way, you'll build rapport and increase their commitment to your company.
I do that by spending at least two minutes of my daily team meeting celebrating our wins and pointing out how these employees had a key role in it.
Self-Reliant Achievers: Delegating leadership
With this group of employees, your leadership style should be low on both directing and supporting behaviors. These guys are your A-players -- so you can rely on them to work independently and take responsibility for their projects.
You'll want to keep an eye on things, but don't step in unless it's needed. The key is to give them your trust and support, while not micromanaging and killing their motivation.
At my company, these guys have the authority to make some high-level decisions without the need to consult me first. But, of course, they take ownership of whatever results they get.
In an ideal scenario, you'll be working with an entire team of A-players who are highly competent and self-directing. But, unless you're a Fortune 500 company with a big budget, this is nearly impossible.
The good news, though, is that with the right leadership style and a little patience, you can nurture your employees and lead them to become their best selves.
Related Video: 5 Different Leadership Styles Every Good Boss Needs to Have