Manage By Mobilizing
Create an Environment that Empowers People
by Jody Urquhart

Are you depriving your employees of the opportunity to excel? Most organizations revolve around the manager as controller model but attempts to control people’s behavior can cause resentment. As Peter Druker says, “A leader’s job is to make people’s strengths effective and their weaknesses irrelevant.”

Goal Setting

By setting goals so high that only a few can reach them, we limit others. Set a standard and people reach for that, even if they may be capable of more. Goal setting can limit productivity.

There is a delicate balance between what is just right and what is too far out of reach. Aim too high and it’s defeating, aim too low and it’s not motivating. The most important part of goal setting is that people who have to reach the goal, also set them. Often goals are set because a manager wants to force an outcome. People perceive this and don’t feel like a part of the process so they don’t buy into the end result enough to make it happen. Results depend on people, so it makes sense that people set, buy into and drive the goal setting process.

Here are some tips on setting goals:

  1. Set goals and standards individually for each employee. Help them create their own goals. A goal should be thought of as an agreement between a manager and an employee;
  2. Get to know employees and their abilities. People will respect you if you bring out their own sense of worth;
  3. Watch employees to see what inspires them and encourage them to do more of this;
  4. Try to see things from the perspective of the employee. A realistic goal to you may not seem realistic to them;
  5. Think of the manager’s job being to support employees in reaching their goals. Managers are a resource for employees;
  6. Be on the lookout for ways to help bring out the best in others. Instead of saying “I need you to be more productive.” Ask, “how can I help you be more productive?”
  7. Be open minded and flexible to new ideas, suggestions, work habits and behavior.

Make Mistakes More Often

Encourage employees to risk making mistakes and create an atmosphere that encourages them to be open when errors occur. Usually when people make mistakes they feel guilty and try to cover up, sometimes even from themselves. The opportunity to learn from the mistake becomes hidden as well. Mistakes are a part of growth. Bring them out in the open and let others learn from the example. This will foster an environment of openness that encourages creativity and autonomy. Celebrate errors and victories equally.

Vision of the Whole

Keep the operation and vision of the company top of mind for everyone. When emphasizing this department or that process we often create value judgments, competition and detachment from other parts of the organization. Instead, encourage employees to see every move, change or activity as it affects the whole company. Vision isn’t one-dimensional. It includes all employees, suppliers, customers, competition — even the political and social environment.

Make Information Accessible

Imagine your first day on the job in a new company. As you walk in the door you notice rooms that are off limits to everyone but the managers. Day after day you start to see that information is carefully guarded and watched. Many meetings occur behind closed doors. As managers walk around, you sense they know something you don’t. Does this sound like a fun and productive work environment?

What’s the big deal? Why do we guard information so carefully? Company information is often seen as intellectual property, for both the company and for individuals. People put effort into creating information and ideas and start to take ownership of it. In doing so, it becomes territorial and guarded. Pretty soon it creates a separation between those who have access to information and those who don’t. Individuals start to see they are excluded and feel disconnected from the whole vision of the organization.

Information bonds people to one another. It is an important part of the positive growth and community of an organization. Cutting people off from access to information is unhealthy for the company. Find ways to make information accessible to everyone. If meetings must occur behind closed doors then make sure others in the department are included. Bring their information and ideas to the meeting. Create an “after meeting” follow up bulletin that discusses what was said.

Try to include employees in the information even though they may not have been at the forefront of the change. Explain the reason for a change, how it will serve management, employees, customers, suppliers, etc. Keep employees well informed of what is going on, why it is happening and how it affects their job and the company as a whole. Ask for suggestions and involve everyone as much as possible. Remember, employees are the resource that makes things happen, thus it is essential to get their buy in.


Author of “All Work & No SAY," Jody Urquhart, www.idoinspire.com, speaks at meetings and conventions on How to Build a Passionate & Committed Workplace. To book Jody to speak at your next meeting email her at jody@idoinspire.com.

Articles by Jody Urquhart | More like this in Personal Development, Executive Performance, The Leadership Imperative, and Authenticity and Ethics in The CEO Refresher Archives

   


Copyright 2002 by Jody Urquhart. All rights reserved.

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