Managing people can be rewarding but challenging. In a job shop, it’s one of the roles that just happens. You may have started your own shop and gradually started hiring or moved up in the company you worked for because you were doing a great job. Now, you have people reporting to you with little training on how to be an effective leader.
One of the biggest drains on a manager’s energy can be explaining the same thing multiple times (often to the same person) and having employees come to them with almost every decision. There are three main reasons employees go to their manager and ask for help:
- They do not know how to handle the situation.
- They believe the manager likes to make all the decisions.
- It is a way to get attention or engage directly with the boss.
Here are a few tips to help you empower your employees and save your energy (and sanity).
5 Tips to Empower Employee Decision Making
Empowering Tip #1: Have Productive Staff Meetings
Hold regular meetings that include consistent training, examples of success stories, and positive recognition for strong performers. Have a set agenda so a complaint session does not ensue. If there are problems, brainstorm on how to solve the issue. Engage employees to be part of the meeting agenda. For example, ask a team member who is especially good at making customers happy despite a service problem to share how they handle those calls. Or have employees read a relevant new business book or chapter and share a few takeaways to start the meeting on a positive note.
Empowering Tip #2: Ask, “How do you think we should handle it?”
Some managers don’t even realize that they are so good at making decisions that it becomes part of the culture to ask them everything. To change this, put the ball back in your team’s court. Often, they already have the right answer. That will help them to think through the options and resources they can use to find a solution. Give them latitude to act even if it might be slightly different from your approach.
Empowering Tip #3: Provide What-if Scenarios
You can even use your decision-making history to offer your team members a chance to think critically through a challenge. Let them decide either individually or collaboratively, how they would handle the situation. You may even learn something yourself!
Empowering Tip #4: Appoint a Weekly Problem-Solver
There’s no better way to train employees to solve problems than to give them practice. Consider appointing a different employee each week to be the designated problem solver for issues that fit specific parameters. Have them report their solution to you, and you can determine whether to implement it or your solution.
Empowering Tip #5: Have 1-on-1 Meetings
At least once a month, have a scheduled time to meet individually with your direct reports. Give them your full attention and review what help they need and give them encouragement and feedback.
Putting some of these processes in place will reduce your frustration and encourage employees to use and develop their problem-solving skills. Having employees make decisions will also save you time and make better employees in your shop.