“I’m too busy in meetings to be a leader…I spend most of my time in the trenches. Managing the people part of the process hasn’t been my highest priority.”
During a leadership training workshop with a team of middle managers last week, Carol and I heard this statement among many others, about how workloads can overshadow the people part of leadership.
It’s true there’s probably lots of work to do.
It’s also true that most middle managers have never been trained on how to communicate and lead a team. They may be good at getting the work done, but if they haven’t learned how to utilize their team, they will be stuck down in the trenches forever…doing all the work on their own.
During our High-Performance Leadership workshop, we teach leaders who work with teams to work in four areas when managing their people process. The goal is to empower them to do better, be better, and most importantly become an effective part of getting the work done.
Empowering your team is a huge part of the people process. Managing your team doesn’t stop or get put on the back burner when workloads get heavy. If you manage your people process using these four steps, you will decrease your own work load as you get better at empowerment.
For middle managers, this is probably the toughest part of managing a team…especially if they didn’t come up under a leader who managed this way.
Empowerment is about encouraging your team to use their creative talents when situations arise that fall outside normal processes or metrics. Empowering your employees to handle issues outside the norm, without having to get your permission, enables them to take control of the situation and come to a favorable outcome for the company and or the customer.
Don’t worry…you don’t just wave a magic wand and empower your employees to make decisions on their own. They first must go through the Enhance, Enable and Engage process so that you, as the leader, can feel confident and trust them to make the right decisions.
Enhance: (Employee Development)
We see this as the first step in empowerment. You must enhance your team by sharing information and setting clear goals and objectives. Building the framework helps your team make better decisions when they understand the expectations.
Create consistent informational sharing situations like daily or weekly meetings in a relaxed environment. Discuss department & company goals and objectives so the team is aware. This keeps everyone on the same page.
Enable: (Empowerment Training)
Now that you have started to enhance your team with information, goals, and objectives, you start to move them into the enable quadrant. You are setting your team up for success by giving them the tools they need to enable them to make good sound decisions.
Hold sessions to role play and create situations to allow your team to step outside the box of procedures and metrics to handle a problem. Let them practice putting their empowerment skill to work in a controlled environment. This builds confidence and trust on their part, as well as yours.
Once your employees are ‘empowered’, it doesn’t mean the work ends…constant engagement is necessary to monitor and review successes and failures. When you create an environment that reviews both, analyzing the results of both the good and bad outcomes, you will help your team learn about what worked and what didn’t.
Celebrate both the successes and failures, and use the outcomes as teaching experiences. Talk about the things that didn’t go as planned, and look at ways that might have changed the outcome. Remember, it should be okay to make mistakes if the employee used good sound decisions based on the goals and objectives.
Want to Learn More?
To learn more about the High-Performance Communication & High-Performance Leadership workshops, contact me. Many times, middle managers have been promoted from within, and they may have no formal communication or leadership experience. These workshops speak directly to building the foundation for your middle managers.