What do We do to Empower People


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Kathy Cuff is a senior consulting partner with The Ken Blanchard Companies and co-author of LEGENDARY SERVICE: The Key is to Care. Kathy seems to have done just about every job at the joined the Blanchard Companies and help create many of the custom products for their clients.

Related Podcast and Transcription: Legendary Service is about ICARE

Excerpt from Podcast:

Joe: That ties into that word empowerment. But to empower people we can’t just empower them, can we? What do we do to empower people?

Kathy: You’re absolutely right. I’m glad that you’re asking that because we have some training that goes along with our new book Legendary Service. We as an organization offer and work with clients on training. And we’ve broken it into two different workshops. So we have one workshop that we say everybody in the organization should go through. Whether you’re a manager or individual contributor, it doesn’t matter because everybody has customers. However, we also setup a half day workshop just for managers because to your point, years ago when that whole buzz came up about empowering employees, I think that the downside of that was nobody knew how to do it. It sounded like a great term and everybody jumped on the bandwagon because who wants to say no. “We don’t believe in empowering people,” right?

They didn’t understand how to do it. There wasn’t training so we have a half day workshop where the focus in that is for managers – it’s a manager workshop. Their customers, their focus in that half day workshop are their direct reports, their team members. It’s not even focusing on the external customer. But we want mangers to think about what is your role and responsibility in this whole service initiative? What do you need to be doing to empower your employees? So we have one activity they do and they’re called playing field. If you think of any sport, especially with the World Cup going on right now, if you’re watching that or the Stanley Cup, the hockey that just finished, and NBA; heck we have lots of things. When you think about any sport out there, you know it’s inbounds and out of bounds. Well people need to know that at work as well.

Once we define the parameters, they also need to know “when is it okay sometimes to go out of bounds?” If something doesn’t make sense, a policy, a practice, use your head. Hopefully that’s why we hired you. So if something doesn’t make sense, bring that back to our attention, whether your manager within the organization. Question things. But also we teach leaders how can you empower people more and get the consistent behavior and performance that you’re expecting from folks so that you’re not frustrating your customers with that inconsistency.

That’s where some employees sometimes – I won’t even use the word empowered, they feel entitled. So they think they can make whatever decision they want, take whatever action. That’s not always the best thing either. You want to make sure that you’ve trained, you’ve educated your employees what they can and can’t do and then allow them to do it. And that’s where they’re going to feel valued by the organization. They’re going to be more engaged in what they do because they have ownership to what they’re doing. We’re known for leadership and all sorts of things at the Ken Blanchard Companies. We’ve worked for years with organizations knowing that as well that you’re going to get more of what we call that discretionary effort from employees when you let them own things, when they feel like they are in charge and have that responsibility. That’s where that comes with the empowerment.

Sounds a lot like standard work to me?

Holacracy, Zappos and Standard Work

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Joseph Dager
Business901 is a firm specializing in bringing the continuous improvement process to the sales and marketing arena. He has authored the books the Lean Marketing House, Marketing with A3 and Marketing with PDCA. The Business901 Blog and Podcast includes many leading edge thinkers and has been featured numerous times for its contributions to the Bloomberg's Business Week Exchange.


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