Anyone who has had any form of management education in the last several decades can recite the mantra – empowerment is good! We all get the theory but there are practical pressures that sometimes push us the other way.
In complex matrix organizations we may not know our people so well. We may be on different sites, from different cultures and time-zones – there are lots of little things that can cause misunderstandings and undermine trust.
Some are not so little – tighter regulation like Sarbanes Oxley (that solved all the risk management problems in the financial sector didn’t it) has embedded tighter controls in the governance and operating mechanisms of organizations. Get it wrong as a senior manager and you may be going home in handcuffs!
Normally we deal with this by working on the skills and attitudes of the mangers, and that remains important, to balance the myriad pressures to micromanage.
But how about the individual – it’s all very well blaming managers who do not empower you – but what have you done to earn the right to be left alone?
As an individual we can make sure that our manager has confidence in us; make sure they are not surprised about things they should have known about, take steps to show our competence, keep developing new skills etc…
Managers do not empower people they do not think are capable and who they do not trust.
If you want to be more empowered, ask what you can do to build capability and trust with your manager. Or you could just wait and hope they go on a training course.
We think there is too much central control in complex companies and that both managers and individuals need to work hard to roll it back.
What have you done to earn the right to be empowered?
Updated May 2013 to remove links to removed pages.