Today, traditional top-down management can hold companies back. It slows down decision-making, holds back brilliant talent from making an impact and can create an unnecessary single point of failure within each department.
Now that many mass communication and collaboration tools exist to facilitate real-time company-wide work, it’s time to remove the excess layers of approval from your business and thoughtfully empower each individual contributor to take action based on his or her skills and capabilities. Here's how:
1. Modernize your company through empowerment.
A company’s decision-making process needs to be streamlined and swift. The traditional corporate hierarchy hampers all of these things.
Embracing employee empowerment won’t just accelerate your company’s rate of innovation; it will lead to happier teams and attract free-thinking and creative job-seekers to your brand.
2. Showcase your mission, vision and values early and often.
61 percent of employees say they don’t know their company’s mission. How can these individuals ever feel empowered to make smart decisions without first seeking approval from a manager?
Go out of your way to make your mission, vision and values apparent to your entire team.
Put up posters in your office that highlight your values. Frequently refer to your vision when interacting with your team. And post your mission statement on your website for the entire world to see.
3. Develop a decision framework.
A decision framework teaches employees how to make decisions that benefit the company without first seeking approval from their managers. If you have high confidence that your initiative will be successful -- and the actions you want to take are low-risk -- go ahead and make the decision. This will build their confidence and show (not tell) them how to act autonomously. As a bonus, in doing this, you'll be coaching your younger employees to become better leaders themselves. Ninety-one percent of millennial aspire to be company leaders, so they’ll appreciate this training.
4. Shrink the approval process.
If employees are accustomed to seeking managerial approval before taking action, it’s going to take a little time to break them of this habit. Consider this a weaning process in which they learn what types of initiatives are guaranteed to be approved and which ones tend to require discussion.
When employees come to you seeking approval during this transition period, ask them why they’re feeling unsure about their project, and then provide your input on whether you agree with their concerns. Eventually, this will help them understand your thought processes and priorities, making them more capable of anticipating what does and doesn’t require approval.