Who Should You Empower?
David Freund, Chief Leadership Officer

Empowerment is a great tool to develop people. It fuels employee engagement and helps your team members feel that they are moving forward in their careers. However, empowerment isn’t a secret weapon that solves all problems, and empowering the wrong person can be a disaster. Let’s take a look at three areas you need to evaluate before moving forward with empowering a team member.

  1. Knowledge – What does the person know? Knowledge is the foundation that skills are built upon. When I served my four-year apprenticeship, I was required to attend 144 hours of classroom instruction. This knowledge added clarity and relevance to my skills. Without it, my learning would have slowed greatly.
  1. Skill – What can the person do? A person who is empowered must have demonstrated the skills to perform the task or job. Think of empowering someone to drive your car. What skills would you expect they have before you hand over the keys? I would not give my nine-year-old grandson the keys to my car. I would happily pass the keys on to someone who has demonstrated the competency to drive and who has an active driver’s license.
  1. Desire – What does the person want? Don’t answer this question too quickly. Often people say that they want to grow and develop, but their actions say something else. I believe that a person needs to show commitment and earn the trust of their leader and teammates before the empowerment begins. The measurements of commitment might not look the same for everyone, but what you want to see is dedication and actions in line with the organization’s mission, vision, and values.

If our goal is to help people achieve their greatest potential, we need to do our homework before empowering or promoting a team member. If we don’t, we set them up for failure and demoralize the rest of our staff. If you would like to hear more about this critical topic, please join Marisa Norcross and me for Episode 234 of The Next Page podcast.

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