What does Empowerment mean?
This is about people at all levels in your organisation feeling able to take proactive decisions and act without waiting for approval. It’s about removing unnecessary hierarchies that slow down the speed at which you can respond to customer needs and the market. As a result, your customers receive a quicker, more personal, and effective service, and your people take more accountability and ownership. It’s a win-win.
How do we do it?
While you cannot be agile if everyone is waiting for instructions or approvals, this doesn’t mean people have absolute freedom without any guardrails. We often talk about the most effective empowerment being where there is ‘freedom in a framework.’ This means your people are aware of the parameters they need to operate by, and within that they have the freedom to do what they feel is best for the customer, at pace.
Therefore, there are two mindset shifts that need to happen for empowerment to flourish. For leaders, it involves relinquishing their need for perfectionism, control, or the belief that they need to have all the answers. This requires putting their trust in their people to do the right thing. For employees, they need to stop thinking they must wait for permission and take personal responsibility.
What business benefits does this have?
An empowerment mindset enables people at all levels to make decisions on the spot, day-to-day, so they can respond rapidly to new information. People further down in your organisation may well be closer to customers, so they are able to anticipate challenges, fix issues, and make recommendations.
You can’t pivot, adapt, and respond to customer needs at speed if you don’t listen and involve your people who interact with them daily. Being truly agile, then, and reaping all the business benefits it brings, depends on the empowerment mindset being cultivated by both your leaders and your people, which is why it’s so critical.
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