6. The art of people feeling empowered
ORGANIZATION DEVELOPMENT: EMPOWER
Successes of companies such as Google, Netflix, Zappos and Spotify make empowerment even more appealing than ever. These companies are organized in an agile way and all are well-known for their innovative organization and collaborative culture.
It may be difficult to copy them, as your own organization and industry is unique. But there is something interesting in their models that may be of help to you. They understand the art of people feeling empowered in their role or as a team.
When you have a clear why and the intent to transform, you have alignment. Now it is all about how to integrate the working framework most effectively to reach the objectives in your organization.
It is crucial to master three learning ingredients: autonomy, collaboration and continuous improvement. This is to be supported by role modeling behavior of leaders and leadership.
Eliminate anything that is blocking them and their unique added value and their full potential comes out
Master the learning organization and you can empower your people.
In an organization where people can contribute based on who they are, get inspired by what you stand for, have a clear purpose and anything that is blocking them to be successful has been eliminated, people will start contributing their unique added value and reach their full potential.
Role model the new strategy & expected behavior
Empowering people does not mean that, as an organization, you should not do anything. You need to cover the basics.
The key pillars are a provided purpose and big picture and supportive leadership with a coaching capacity, especially when things get tough.
The most important role you as organizational leader have, is modelling the new strategy and expected behavior.
Stimulate the new culture in the teams, in departments/domains and across the organization
Stimulate the new culture with autonomy for people who can take ownership for their tasks and allow them to make mistakes. If people feel enough trust to openly share with others they can learn from their mistakes as well.
Also, let them share best practices and celebrate key achievements. Widen the horizon by not only doing this on a team / department level but try to learn from other departments and domains in the organization.
In addition, try to align your overall objectives to make sure you are not competing with other internal departments or domains and truly collaborate on an organization level.
People in your organization are your competitive edge while the rest is becoming a commodity
In my role as strategic change and development consultant I am often invited to work together with organizations and leadership teams to discuss how they can further grow their business. I advise in developing their strategy, business model, positioning and unique selling points, their culture and aligned way of working. That last part, culture and new ways of working, is ingrained with empowerment.
What kind of culture is required to let people take ownership? How do they feel? Do they take the time to coach each other? How do you get them to start collaborating and become more effective, on a cross-domain or organization level? And what would you like them to share with each other?
I help organizations understand how this works for them, let them experience what success could look like and help them learn how to master these topics.
As an organization, mastering the art of helping people feel empowered for who they are, what they stand for, and what they can add, can provide you that competitive advantage you are looking for.
As with the digital economy and new technologies, it is becoming more and more important to use your people to the fullest. As some might say: people in your organization are your competitive edge and the rest is becoming a commodity.
Three practical tips to empower
Are taking ownership and coaching others seen as role model behaviors in your organization? True leaders and leadership stand out in their supporting role in and towards the organization nowadays. Role modeling this new strategic intent often conflicts with the reason why leadership moved into their positions in the first place.
Can they cope and start applying that supporting mindset and behavior? Of course, but it is a big step.
Is collaboration the key to how you measure success in your organization? Or are you still focused too much on the individual and short-term performance?
It is best to include it in your company goals or performance conversations. It would be great if you can say that you measure, select, develop and evaluate on collaboration with an enterprise-mindset. In your organization, people are willing to share mistakes and best practices. When these are shared, they are translated into concrete actions or impediments to be dealt with.
Apply continuous improvement
You have a culture where people discuss what they deliver and how they can boost their effectiveness.
For example, during fortnightly retrospectives or other reflection sessions.