How empowering people makes you stronger.

(c) lenadrapella.com – Support & Empower

It may not be an obvious thing for everyone, yet I often notice during my Sauna mentoring sessions that leaders are frequently challenged with loneliness and lack of support from their management teams or shareholders.

As much as this situation is very common for founders, there are a few simple steps everyone can follow to accommodate this issue. If I were to mention the most important ones I’d select:

  1. Find a peer outside your organization.
  2. Hiring the right people.
  3. Trusting those you’ve hired.
  4. Empower those you’ve trusted.
  5. Convey the ‘Why’ effectively and frequently.

I’ve already written about no.1. where I encourage you to have a few people in your close network who have been through your challenges recently and can help you to avoid making the mistakes they’ve made. I’ll focus on hiring and trusting (delegating) in a separate post, but today I’d really like to start a discussion about the fourth of the five: Empowering those you’ve trusted.

Why is empowering others so important? In the vast majority of cases you already have some people in your Team. They rely on you, your expertise and experience, but also  your support and empathy. How you will treat your employees determines not only their and your happiness, but what’s important from a business perspective – their efficiency, motivation and engagement.

You’ve surely heard or experienced dreadful micromanagement or a feeling that either your boss or you are a bottleneck to the team or the whole organization. That often happens when you’re not conveying the ‘why’ well enough and when you’re not empowering your employees. I’ll focus on ‘the Why’ in my next article (don’t miss it), but even a perfectly delivered bigger picture will not work if you don’t empower people.

When, a few weeks ago, I asked a few entrepreneurs and startup managers about their habit of one on one meetings I was quite surprised with their answers.  Out of 44 who answered, 73% indicated that they are meeting with all their direct reporting employees at least once a month, regardless if a meeting was requested or not. Most probably this high ratio is skewed a bit since it’s declarative and the group where I asked the question consisted mostly of open minded & modern entrepreneurs. Also, asking such a question publicly may demotivate those who don’t meet their employees at all to stand out, since there isn’t much to be proud of here. Regardless of that, I am happy that the culture of 1:1 meetings seems to be much more common in Poland than it used to be 5-10 years ago.

How about the content of such meetings? Are these effective and what are they actually for? From discussions underneath the quoted FB post as well as my independent mentoring sauna meetings it looks as if, although it’s quite common to already be meeting with employees, quite rarely are these used for the empowering and development of employees. They are very often ‘project updates’ meetings. As much as task updates and checkpoints are needed, it’s important to remember that these meetings are best if they are used for empowering people, making them stronger, more independent in the future. It’s to provide them support, not control. Guidelines, not solutions. It’s a great moment for making sure that the wider context is well understood. This is the moment when a manager can offer his/her assistance, show appreciation, but also make sure that employees are growing and are happy with what they are doing within the team.

Of course, 1:1 meetings cannot be the only way of direct interaction of a manager with their team, but this is a sacred moment that, when conducted properly, are very much awaited by employees.

Have you heard of a 4:1 rule? It’s believed that one should hear 4 positive encouragements in order to absorb properly (effectively) 1 negative bit of feedback. Positive motivation is, in most cases, better than negative. It impacts motivation, adds fuel to the team’s engine and makes people grow & shine. The way you deliver feedback is also very important. There is a great method of leading challenging conversations, that will make this process more efficient.

Don’t you ever forget about empowering others. It will help you as much as it will help others. It will make you stronger, as more independent and confident people on your Team will push a combined efficiency further.

What are your thoughts on this matter? 1:1 meetings are only one way of empowering others. What are the other tools you’re using to support your employees? How does this impact you as a founder or manager? Please share your ideas in comments – this will help others… and empower them!

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