As a business owner, what were your main reasons for starting your business? To expand, grow and run a successful company? To be your own boss and look after your family? Or is it to have the company run itself and still be profitable without your leadership?
Empowering for Delegation
In order to accomplish any of these goals, you must invest in your workforce. As I’ve said multiple times – your workforce are the cogs and gears running your business. You must ensure they are aligned with your ultimate goals and that there is an understanding of the company’s direction. This is essential if you want to ever let the organisation run itself successfully.
A method that can help encourage this culture is empowerment. Often confused with delegation, but I assure you these are different terms with completely different meanings. Empowerment is encouraging employees to be more autonomous ushering confidence, whereas delegation is simply the passing on of duties. Using delegation alone to try and make your workforce run the company themselves can be hit or miss. See, not all employees want to take on more duties despite performing well or not. Some employees actually find delegation demotivating as they don’t see the extra responsibility valuable enough to take on. This can be due to many reasons, they may already be enjoying their job as much as they can and don’t want to get ahead of themselves or they simply don’t like having more responsibility and pressure.
The trouble is a lot of managers see potential in an employee – they see they’re doing well and immediately give them more responsibility thinking that it will empower them. For some employees, it can, but for others, it may end with leaving their job. You can’t delegate expecting an employee to be instantly empowered from their new duties without testing the waters first. What I think is best practice is to empower your workforce, then delegate and before you start to empower anybody, first see how they already operate. Are there already employees who do more than expected or are always asking for more jobs? Do they seem like the right personality fit for more responsibility?
It’s worth observing how the employee in question performs from taking on a few more duties. This will tell you whether they would even want more responsibility and also whether they are competent in handling more responsibility. Trialling responsibilities before assigning them to a person put less pressure on your workforce and still provides you with the environment to measure their capabilities. If they do not perform well or dislike the pressure, then it’s not worth encouraging them to take on more. From testing and measuring your employees’ capabilities you can identify how much support they will need if they were to take on delegated duties or even a promotion.
What happens most of the time is that there will be an employee who is capable to perform the extra duties and seems willing to but what they lack is the confidence to execute it. This is where the empowerment comes in handy. This is where you would allow the employee to make up their own minds on decisions and input their own ideas. As a manager or business owner, you must provide direction until that individual is confident enough to know what they need to do without your guidance and supervision. True delegation. Once that has happened, your employee who now may be a high-level manager can carry out tasks the way you’ve taught them and manage the outcomes as well.