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7 Obstacles That Keep Leaders from Empowering Their Teams

Empowerment is a tricky topic in most workplaces, because it disrupts the normal working dynamics of an organisation. Most employees would prefer more empowerment rather than more structured decision-making. However, many leaders are not willing to work towards this same goal. In this article, I want to explore some of the reasons why leaders aren’t willing to empower their employees.

7 Obstacles That Keep Leaders From Empowering Their Teams

Benefits of Empowered Teams

Benefits of empowerment are clear. When employees are given the freedom to make their own decisions about matters in their jobs, they are able to increase their productivity. Since they will spend less time calling on their superiors to assist them, they can more quickly solve problems on their own with the resources that are given.

Empowered employees are also invested employees. Jobs that are too structured and rigid do not attract employees who want to stay put in their job for long periods of time. When more power is given to the employee to deal with problems that arise, they will be more willing to stay in that job versus looking for other jobs.

Managers and leadership personnel will also be less stressed out in empowered workplaces. Employees who aren’t allowed to make their own decisions will call on their leaders often, even for small problems that could have been solved easily. Instead, leaders over-exert themselves in an attempt to do their normal job responsibilities while also dealing with interruptions from employee problems.

Why Leaders Don’t Empower Their Teams

So, if the benefits are so clear then what stands in the way of employee empowerment? Here are some of the most common obstacles:

1. Laziness

To be fair, it takes a lot of effort to create an environment that promotes employee empowerment. It is not an easy job for leaders in the beginning of the process. This is one of the main reasons that leaders don’t bother with trying to empower employees. It is simply easier not to try something like this that may not necessarily work well and may not be worth the efforts you put into making it happen.

2. Fear of Position Loss

Leaders who are in lower management positions can sometimes fear that if their employees are empowered then they will lose their leadership positions. In theory, if employees can make their own decisions and do more for themselves, management positions could be consolidated or removed entirely.

3. Inconsistency

There are two levels of inconsistency that can occur. First, leaders may be afraid that their employees will make inconsistent decisions that will lead to customer dissatisfaction. If one employee makes the choice to handle a problem one way for a customer, but another employee makes the opposite decision later on, that customer can become very dissatisfied with the service they were provided.
The second instance of inconsistency is when the leader is not consistent enough in their efforts to promote empowerment. It is necessary for leaders to stay the course and not deviate back towards complete hands-on management. If employees can’t be sure that they will remain with the power to make their own decisions, they will be less motivated to stay empowered.

4. Reliance on Programs 

Empowerment programs are not particularly effective for all workplaces, because empowerment needs to be tailored to fit the specific working environment. Leaders who rely on these types of things have probably seen that they are not particularly effective and will be unmotivated to use any sort of empowerment programs again in the future.

5. Lack of Clear Empowerment Goals

Leaders that have different definitions of empowerment than their employees won’t be able to achieve anything substantial. Both employers and employees need to be clear on what sort of empowerment goals they are reaching towards. “Be more empowered” is not a clear enough goal. Instead, “recommend alternative solutions” or “handle small tasks on your own” are clearer goals to reach for.

6. Wrong Perceptions

Sometimes leaders imagine that customers and employees are both conniving and are working against the company. Because of this, they are more hesitant to allow employees to make their own decisions. If the customer tricks the employee, they might make a costly mistake. If the employees are working against the company, they might make decisions that are counter to what’s best for the company. These perceptions prove to be false most of the time, but they do still exist.

7. Working Roles

Employees that are very stuck in the specific roles of their jobs will not be as willing to become empowered. Roles that are highly rigid and structured can keep employees from wanting to go the extra mile or take more steps to get things done on their own.

employee engagement infographic – An infographic by the team at Dale Carnegie Training Employee Engagement Infographic

Conclusion

At the end of the day it all comes down to the culture you foster within the workplace. Getting everyone on board and empowered takes work but it is usually worth it in the end. One strategy is to sit down with your team and establish a team charter that will align the companies goals and values with that of the individual’s goals and values. This helps to set the direction of where the team is heading and reaffirms the reasons why they work for the company in the first place as they need to feel good about the work they are doing and the positive impact it has on the team and the greater community.

Team charters also go a long way specifically outlining each person’s role and what they are responsible for. Remember you have hired these individuals for a reason so let them shine at what they are great at and they will be far more engaged and empowered.

How To Engage The Millennials Of The Future Through Team Building

They’re outspoken, tech-savvy, entitled and taking over the global workforce. Experts predict that by 2020, Millennials (Gen Y) will account for 50% of international workers and 75% by 2025.

How to engage millenials workers through team building
Globally, organisations are struggling to attract and retain Millennials, who tend to switch jobs every two years. This highly talented pool of workers needs to be engaged, motivated and fully connected. Inspiring this generation in the workplace with innovative team building is one way to retain top talent.

But first, it’s critical to understand what makes Millennials so unique.

The Millennial TakeoverInfographic From Visually.

Named by Time Magazine as the “Me Me Me Generation,” this group of workers is more distracted, demanding and entitled from generations before. These emerging professionals are also collaborative, tech-savvy, entrepreneurial and looking to reform businesses.

In a recent millennial’s survey conducted by Deloitte, it was concluded that apart from income, five key areas influenced a millennials choice of employer. These were

  1. Work-Life Balance
  2. Workplace Flexibility – working from home and flexible hours
  3. Opportunities to Progress / Leadership Opportunities
  4. Professional Development & Training Programs
  5. Sense of Meaning & Connection from work

Millennial Loyalty

Source: The Deloitte Millennial survey. http://www.deloitte.com/MillennialSurvey

When you engage these workers through a values-led culture they will be more likely to be committed to your organisation’s goals as previous generations.

The-Rise-of-Millenial-Workplace
Infographic from Nelson

Embracing Generational Diversity with Team Building

By creating a cohesive environment that embraces generational differences, you’ll be able to maximise the value of organisational performance with a team of workers who balance experience and innovation.

Charity Team Building

Millennials are very globally conscious and want to know their work is contributing to the social well being of the community, or a cause. Engaging Millennials with collaborative volunteer or charity events helps increase their sense of unity and lets them feel they are contributing to a better good.

Cross-Generational Mentoring

Create mentorship programs between office Baby Boomers and younger workers. Institutional knowledge and experience will add a new dimension to the innovative minds of the youngsters, who in turn will boost performance of the oldster with some tech-savvy thinking.

A Harvard Business Review article, Managing People from 5 Generations, says that partnering older workers with younger ones to execute specific projects is becoming more common in the workplace.

“The younger person — who grew up with the internet — teaches the older person about the power of social media to drive business results,” Jeanne Meister, co-author of The 2020 Worplace: How Innovative Companies Attract, Develop and Keep Tomorrow’s Employees Today, tells HBR. “…Mixed-age work teams are another way to promote cross-generational mentoring. “Studies show that colleagues learn more from each other than they do from formal training, which is why it is so important to establish a culture of coaching across age groups.”

Diverse perspectives from all generations will allow for new solutions to old problems or increased innovation with traditional practices to maximise that community feeling in an organisation.

Collaboration

Millennials are inspired by connectivity – be it peer-to-peer or through social media. They need to work together, with a clearly stated goal. Millennials are very social and perhaps more group-oriented than previous generations. Most of their experiences, educational or social, have revolved around groups, whether it be interactive video games with a worldwide audience, group sports or simply connecting with friends on social media. Use a virtual and physical collaborative approach to create buzz among all generations in the organisation.

Experiential Events

Boring boardroom training events will not inspire this generation that loves to experience! Gen Y tends to easily bore so if team building involves a meeting room, make sure it is interactive and allows competition. Encourage skill development and foster learning by immersing this group of people with programs that allow them to personally connect their contributions to the community. Experiential programs provide an environment where individuals apply knowledge and conceptual understanding to problem solving.

It’s also critical every leader understands that their organisation will employ varying personalities, despite generational stereotypes. For a truly successful business with engaged workers, always make sure you consider the motivating factors of each individual worker.

 

If your looking to motivate your staff or would like to create a values led culture, Give Total Team Building A Call. We will tailor our programs specifically to the individual needs of your organisation. Let us design a unique program that taps into the key motivators of your workforce with a fun, engaging team building event.

 


SOURCES:

  • The 2020 Workplace, Jeanne Meister; Forbes: http://www.forbes.com/sites/rawnshah/2011/04/20/working-with-five-generations-in-the-workplace/#72ebc595759f
  • http://www.dummies.com/how-to/content/motivate-millennials-with-social-interaction.html
  • HBR: Managing People from 5 Different Generations: https://hbr.org/2014/09/managing-people-from-5-generations

4 Signs Of A Healthy Workplace

Whether it’s a company picnic or an adrenaline-fueled trek that has employees zip lining above tree-speckled hills, exciting relationships are established among individuals in an organisation during team building events designed to create cohesion, drive motivation and increase productivity.

Team building brings workers together in a casual, carefree environment and that fosters a feeling of unity and empowerment. It highlights the strengths and talents of employees and allows them to collaborate to successfully accomplish a given task. The ultimate result is a healthy workplace where employees feel bonded, valued and engaged.

4 signs of healthy organisation

How does team building act as a remedy to an ailing organisation?


1. Happy Environment

Effective, happy teams can be created in any kind of work environment – remote or even call centers.

Tony Hsieh, founder and CEO of online shoe retailer Zappos, branded the company by its family core values that include Create Fun and a Little Weirdness, Build Open and Honest Relationships through Communication and Build a Positive Team and Family Spirit. Team Building is built into the foundation of Zappos and each team is given a monthly budget specifically for team building events that are designed to either build or train teams. The company is celebrated for its “Happiness Culture” and the engaging environment that cultivates innovation, motivation and growth.

Workplace Happiness

Image courtesy Sunnibrown

2. High Employee Retention

An individual’s emotional commitment and involvement is a key indicator in measuring the health of an organization.

Employees want to be part of an organization that inspires innovation, supports career growth and rewards/recognizes their contributions. Culture, value, effective leadership and organizational structure – are all attractive elements to top talent.

happy workplace - Employee retention

3. Increased Communication

High-performing teams are all about effective communication. It is the leaders role to create a framework for open communication, across all levels of the organization, including with remote workers. Interactive, action-oriented team building allows members to communicate on a different level and boosts conversation.

team communication

4. High Levels of Engagement

A Gallup report on employee engagement says: “An engaged employee works with passion and feels a profound connection to their company. They drive innovation and move the organization forward.” Simply put, they are psychologically committed to their jobs.

Employee engagement should be a top priority. These employees fully understand how their values align with the interests of a company.

The importance of employee engagement

infographic via Successories

There is nothing greater than an organisation with a culture that inspires its workers. Team members are emotionally invested in the company and enjoy being at work, and around co-workers. Team Building further strengthens cohesiveness and creates bonds among employees who are constantly in pursuit of continued organisational improvement. Give Total Team Building a call today and discuss ways we can help you.


SOURCES:

Gallup, Engaged Employees: http://www.gallup.com/poll/165269/worldwide-employees-engaged-work.aspx