Best Practices - Part 2: Be Inspired. Be Inspiring.
April 27, 2016
Last week, I introduced you to Greg Simeroth of eTech Parts and one of his philosophies on leadership. This week we’ll take a look at how he makes decisions and inspires his employees to be decision makers. To him, it’s simple: Be Inspired. Be Inspiring.
However, in order to be inviting, you need to be inspiring. In the second of my four-part series on empowering employees, we will look at the importance of being inspired and being the inspiration.
Inspire decision-making. Greg constantly looks for opportunities to empower his employees to take leadership roles. His method? "Show me, teach me, observe me, help me." His efforts are rewarded with a positive environment, great customer service, attention to detail, and team members who give 110%. While I was interviewing Greg, I had the opportunity to see this in action. A team member knocked respectfully on the door of Greg's office. He reported a potential problem that had arisen. Greg asked the employee what he thought should be done. The employee talked through some options, and Greg asked a few questions. The employee made a decision about what to do. When he left the office, Greg said that it's important to let his team members make decisions to understand how those decisions play out.
· Show me. As a new employee, this man was introduced to ways to manage similar problems.
· Teach me. In each of these instances he was encouraged to ask questions and make connections.
· Observe me. This discussion that I observed provided the opportunity for Greg to understand the employee's thought process and give guidance through asking questions. The idea was that the employee would come up with an idea that both could live with.
· Help me. Though a leader’s idea may be different from his/her employee’s, it’s important to let the employee make the decision, then help them work through any difficulties that might arise from that decision.
One important element that I remind business leaders about is that your employees understand their jobs. They know their tasks, roles, and functions within the organization, and there comes a time when you should let them do what they need to do to get the job done. But there is a critical point that is often missed: It isn’t possible for a leader to motivate someone to be accountable and make good decisions. People have to motivate themselves. Your role is to encourage and support the decision-making environment, and to give employees the tools and knowledge they need to make and act upon their own decisions. Like Simeroth, you will help your employees reach an empowered state.
Don't just talk employee empowerment--really do employee empowerment. By giving employees at every level of your organization decision-making authority (including such things as determining what products will be designed and sold to customers, creating work schedules, hiring and firing), you will unleash a widespread desire on the part of employees to lead. Of course, not every employee will step up, but you may be surprised by how many do.
I share the following with leaders to help them build an environment that empowers people:
1. Give power to those who have demonstrated the capacity to handle the responsibility.
2. Create a favorable environment in which people are encouraged to grow their skills.
3. Don’t second-guess others’ decisions and ideas unless it’s absolutely necessary. This only undermines their confidence and keeps them from sharing future ideas with you.
4. Give people discretion and autonomy over their tasks and resources.
Successful leaders and managers today are willing to exercise their leadership in such a way that their people are empowered to make decisions, share information, and try new things. Most employees (future leaders) see the value in finding empowerment and are willing to take on the responsibilities that come with it.
If future leaders are inspired and have the wisdom to learn from the experience of present leaders, and if present leaders have the inspiration and wisdom to build an environment that empowers people, both will share in the benefits.
There are many more things that leaders can do to inspire and build an environment that empowers people. Greg Simeroth is one example of an inspiring leader. In part three of our Empowering Employees series, we will examine the importance of giving credit where credit is due.