Think back to the mission statement I shared as I opened the last post; “Delivering customer satisfaction with empowered employees using continuous improvement to get it right the first time, every time.” The piece about empowered employees sounds warm and fuzzy, but what does that really look like? What would that really require?
We hear the word empower quite often these days. As with how frequently the term leadership is tossed around in describing anyone with a title or position, regardless of whether or not they actually do anything at all that truly leads anyone, many of those folks in those roles talk about empowering their people but I’m not sure that happens all that frequently…
A quick internet search shows me that empower, a verb, is defined as “to give (someone) the authority or power to do something.”
While simple, I believe that action can have amazing results in earning our team members’ buy-in on the mission our respective organizations are working to accomplish! A word of caution though; barking orders and expecting them to be followed to the letter isn’t necessarily empowering our team members…
Just like we need to be very intentional in defining what delivering customer satisfaction looks like overall and how that applies to each individual role, we need to be equally intentional about making sure we’re really empowering our team and not just dictating what our team does. A few years ago, I heard a guy who oversaw a large organization say that “one of the highest forms of torture is to assign responsibility without allowing any authority.” What an amazing statement! The authority he referenced really spoke to the idea of empowering. There was just one issue. When it came time for anything at all to get done in that organization, he demanded complete and total control of every decision. Not so empowering after all, huh…?
Here’s the reality: regardless of the detail we build into work instructions or our training processes, our team members will absolutely run into issues that fall outside those lines. If we’re going to build a culture where team members genuinely buy-in to what we have framed in the front lobby as our mission statement, especially if we say we’re empowering them as part of that statement, we need to be extremely sure that we’re living that out at crunch time. If our first response to how they’ve handled a difficult situation is to scrutinize them for not doing exactly what we would have done, we might not be providing much empowerment after all.
Even in situations that didn’t go as well as we would have liked, we need to work to pull all the positives and all the learning we can from them if we want to build a culture where we’re truly empowering employees to deliver customer satisfaction, or anything else for that matter. In the next post, we’ll look at the last two catchphrases in that statement, continuous improvement and right the first time, every time, and some things we can consider with each.
Before then though, understand that I’m not suggesting that this is either a good or bad mission statement; just that we need to carefully consider what we’re doing on a routine basis to make sure any mission statement we have is clearly understood throughout our organization and something we can exemplify for the teams we lead!
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