Empowerment

Every time a team member asks a question about how to do something, show them how to solve it themselves, then next time they can just get on with it. It saves you time and it means that things happen a lot quicker…WIN | WIN.

Apply this to a customer service department and it will result in decisions being made immediately by front line staff; the customer gets an immediate response because the team do not have to check with a manager before making a decision.

The customer wins
through quicker service and increased team morale.
The team wins
through more involvement and the ability to make decisions.
The manager wins
through efficiencies, time savings, less interruptions and increased team morale.

Spend time empowering your team…you might end up working yourself out of a job :o)

Chris.

As a manager and leader you really want your team to be empowered to make their own decisions, but that does not happen overnight. One of the first things that has to be done is to sit down with the team and agree the team operating values.

I used this technique with a newly established team just recently. It really helps to get the whole together in one room and chat about what they consider to be important in a team environment.

The flow chart below highlights the main areas of discussion when discussing team work: –

This exercise can be used along with the previous values/motivators discussion which will allow the team to think about why they are here and what they feel is important to them as individuals; setting the scene for this next discussion about team work.

Facilitating a discussion

If you have read my previous posts you will know that what I tend to do when facilitating group discussions is ask a lot of questions and use what the team come up with to steer the discussion, whilst ensuring the discussion is kept relevant and going in the correct direction. This technique will allow for open discussion. Just remember to listen and ask the team members to elaborate on points made; sometimes it is far too easy to spout out one word answers.

What you need

  1. Your team all in the same room
  2. A flip chart to capture everything
  3. Motivation and energy
  4. A positive attitude
  5. An open mind

1. Identify your team

Spend time discussing with the team who they consider to be their team members. It is important that the whole team agree and that you as the manager are happy with the result the team come up with.

As the facilitator you should already know what answer you are looking for. Think about the bigger picture; there will most likely be sub teams within larger teams. It will be interesting to see what the team come up with and will highlight how each person thinks.

2. Agreeing Team Values

Make use of one of my previous posts about getting to know your employees which will help you facilitate discussion about team values and motivators. The result will allow the team to think about why they are here and what they consider to be important about working in the team. This will allow the team to really underst and what their team is all about and why they do what they do. Again, it is vital that everyone agrees with what is discussed.

3. Operating from the bottom-up

By hosting a focus group like this you are allowing the bottom-up approach to take shape; allowing your employees to make decisions and influence the future of the organisation and how their team operates.

I feel that it is vital to open up the communication channels from the very start and show the team that their ideas are listened to and considered. The worst thing you can do is shut them down; you will find that a lot of good ideas will come from your team and you have to give them the platform to expresses themselves and try out new ideas, without the fear of getting into any sort of trouble.

4. One voice

A very important factor in teamwork is to ensure the team are all delivering the the service with the same message; they use the same language, they behave in the same ways.

Again, this forum setting will allow the team to start to form a message and agree on the values of the team.

5. Having a friend at work

Some may think this is not all that important but I have found that having at least one person you can confide in at work is very important. If anything, it allows those who are having a bad day to get things of their chest and know that the person they are confiding will not take it personally and not discuss it with anyone else.

It is important to highlight here that not everyone will have that one person. As a manager you have to pick up on this, it may be that you can be that person.

6. Have an overriding goal

A fairly obvious point; the team must have an objective, something to focus on – quite high level in this case.

Examples could be: –

  • “To deliver the best service”
  • “Get it right first time”
  • “Have no customer complaints”
  • “To be better than everyone else”

Typical Questions

  • If you were able to create a team, what values would you expect?
  • What makes a good team a good team?
  • How should a good team operate?

This is a great start for discussing team work with your team and is the start of many posts about team work.

Thanks for reading,

Chris