“The vision is really about empowering workers, giving them all the information about what’s going on so they can do a lot more than they’ve done in the past.”
Bill Gates, Co-Founder of Microsoft
Business owner often lament about how much time they spend working in their business and wondering how they can find more time for their family and friends or just to take a vacation away from their day-to-day business worries. Have you ever thought about empowering your employees so you don’t have to be the “answer man” in your organization?
What’s empowering? Webster’s New World Dictionary defines empower as
“to give power or authority to; authorize “
“ to give ability to; enable; permit.”
So why is empowering your employees important? Timothy Ferriss, author of “The 4 – Hour Workweek” said it best in his book; “If you are a micromanaging entrepreneur, realize that even if you can do something better than the rest of the world, it doesn’t mean that’s what you should be doing if it’s part of the minutiae.” Business owners who are interested in growing their business can become stagnated or develop growth plateaus, not to mention the 50 to 70 hours each week they are working to keep the business viable when they are the focal for solving any issues that may arise during a business day. By enabling, permitting or authorizing employees to solve problems that are normally solved by the business owner you free yourself to work on the business and not in it.
How do you empower your employees to act in your best interest? Here are several ways to ensure employees understand your philosophy about how to run your business, maintain the spirit of the company mission and ensure financial viability.
- Share your mission, vision and values with your employees
- Maintain an employee handbook (aka Policies and Procedures Manual)
- Improve your communication skills
- Learn motivational factors
- Acknowledge people’s intelligence
- Catch people doing things right
- Be honest with everyone
- Establish conflict resolution procedures
- Educate on responsibilities and accountability
Here is an example of empowering employees.
Timothy Ferris demonstrated empowerment when he wrote to his outside vendor customer service representatives in an e-mail, after he realized he was becoming overwhelmed with requests for decisions to satisfy customer concerns and requirements as his business grew.
I would like to establish a new policy for my account that overrides all others.
Keep the customer happy. If it is a problem that takes less than $100 to fix, use your judgment and fix it yourself.
This is official written permission and a request to fix all problems that cost under $100 without contacting me. I am no longer your customer; my customers are your customers. Don’t ask me for permission. Do what you think is right, and we’ll make adjustments as we go along.
After the e-mail was sent, his e-mails requesting decisions went from 200 each day to 20 each week and customer returns reduced to 3% when the industry average is between 10 – 15%.
If that is not the epitome of empowering the people that work for you, I don’t know what is.