by Kevin Wimbish, MS, Co-Owner of Summit Wellness Centers, PLLC
I’ve had so many conversations with people over the years about their experiences in the workplace. They often discuss that they are trying to get things done, and their manager or leader keeps delaying, adding, telling them how to do all of the details to get something done. I get it. The manager or leader likely cares so much about the outcome that he or she wants to make sure it gets done well. Also, it is usually out of a good intent of trying to be helpful. Unfortunately, it is often not very helpful.
If we tell everyone what to do at every step of the way, a number of things happen. The person never develops the ability to make his or her own decisions. They always need to come to the leader for the answer. Unfortunately, an unhelpful side of this dynamic is that the leader/ manager may have an insecurity that drives them to consciously or subconsciously have a need to feel important and therefore wants to have others come to them for answers. If you are a manager or leader, do some self-examination and see if this is the case for you. If you empower others, and remove obstacles for them, you will continue to be important, they will develop more fully, and will have a deep sense of gratitude because you are helping them become their best selves.
If you don’t know how to empower others, here are some tips:
- Hire good people. This may sound random in this conversation. However, this is so key to the consideration of empowering others. If you hire people who share your company values, have solid character, are competent, and internally motivated to do a great job because that is who they are, then you don’t need to micromanage. They will largely lead and manage themselves. Awesome people are crucial in organizational life.
- Do a gut check every once in a while and ask yourself if you have a need to feel important by being the center of decision making. If so, talk with a mentor, trusted friend, coach, etc… about that to try to help.
- Hold people accountable to outcomes, not process. If you try to stay involved in minutiae, it will bog down the flow of getting things done, will covertly communicate to the other person that you don’t trust his/ her decision making, and actually create more work for you. Don’t manage their process. Hold them accountable to the agreed-upon outcome at the agreed upon time.
- Ask people what they think about how to handle a situation, before immediately giving them an answer. If you always give the answer, they don’t learn to think for themselves, and again, may send the message that you don’t trust their decision making abilities.
- Remove obstacles. If you manage or lead in a large, more bureaucratic organization, try to use your influence to help move through the morass that can so often bog things down in these types of structures. Just make sure you’re not being one of those obstacles by micromanaging.
- Provide tools. Regularly check in with the person to see what resources they need. Do they need you to help create a more collaborative relationship with another department? Do they need more financial resources? How about training in a certain body of knowledge? Provide them the tools they need to make things happen.
- Create a process of development. Sometimes what we are asking people to do is a new skill they have not really developed yet. It may be learning to give a powerful presentation. It may be learning how to manage a project. It may be healthy conflict resolution in the workplace. Here is a helpful process to consider:
- I lead, you watch, we process later.
- You lead, I watch, we process later.
- You lead alone, we process later.
- You continue to lead, we process as needed.
Empowering others can be a difficult feat because it requires us to be honest with ourselves about why we may need to stay in the middle of things. It requires us to be intentional to hire good people, ask good questions, be clear about outcomes, remove obstacles, provide tools, and create a process. It can be a difficult journey, but the rewards for the person, the organization, and yourself will be worth it.
Kevin Wimbish, MS, is Co-Owner of Summit Wellness Centers, PLLC. He provides Life, Leadership, and Management Coaching as well as Organizational and Team Consulting. He has received his training from The College of Executive Coaching as well as a certificate in Executive & Organizational Coaching from Light University, a division of The American Association of Christian Counselors Foundation.