Two steps for developing staff and creating a culture of empowerment.
As a small business owner, you originally performed all the roles in your business. Then you hired staff to relieve your burden. And yet, you still have no time to get your own work done because your team is incapable of making a decision without first asking your opinion. This can be remedied by a two-step staff empowerment plan.
Step One: Reframe Your Team’s Questions
Stop answering questions and solving problems. Instead, encourage employees to make decisions by asking thought-provoking questions and sharing your observations about the issue at hand so that the employee becomes confident in resolving the issue without your help. This shift will empower employees to think for themselves, to be creative and to make good, solid decisions on behalf of your business.
The result: Your employees grow in knowledge and in confidence. Your workplace becomes one in which staff will look forward to coming to the office and being part of the solution. Your business continues to flourish, and you are able to concentrate on building your company.
When asked a question, ask yourself, “How can I reframe my employee’s question back as either a statement or a question?” Here are some examples:
» When asked, “How would you like me to set up the mail room and copy equipment?” respond by saying, “Look over the space, consider what we need and how we must work, and tell me how you think this space can best be utilized.”
» When asked, “What information do you want me to include in the sales report?” reply: “What types of information do you think will be important to identify new sales opportunities within 200 miles?”
» When asked, “What would you like your logo to look like?” comment, “I have a few ideas. However, I am most interested in seeing what you come up with. You know the product. You understand our customers. Create several options for me to consider.”
Step Two: Give More Useful Feedback
Provide positive and very specific feedback to the employee after a decision has been made and carried out.
» “I really like how you decided to arrange this mail room. Good job. In particular, I noticed that you included a specific area for the shelving and storing of completed work projects. I knew you would come through with a great plan. This is going to work well.”
» “This sales report is great. This will be very useful to me. I particularly appreciate that you thought to include data according to sales quarter and that you projected upcoming sales opportunities by customer name. Well done.”
If you must criticize, layer your critique between two statements of encouragement. For instance:
» “You gave me several interesting logo possibilities. The logos using yellow, red and white attract my attention immediately. Please disregard the logos in which you’ve used more ‘cool’ colors because they are hard for the eye to see. Please narrow the options to those I’ve highlighted. Refine them and bring the final selection to me this Friday. I can tell that you put a lot of thought into this assignment, and I am quite happy with your initial presentation.”
Ask. Facilitate. Offer positive comments. Be specific. Layer critique between two positive comments.
Never answer. Never solve. If you follow these simple guidelines, your staff and your business will produce astounding results.