Improving Team performance

Creating Empowered Teams

Kreg Enderson asked:


Creating Empowered Teams


Finding ways to improve team performance is a continual battle for us as leaders. One of the more difficult things to do is to move away from the power and control model and allow your team members to begin to make decisions on their own. So what does it take to truly “Empower” teams to become self-directed? Let’s take a look at 3 major components of the process.


Communication is our starting point as we begin down the empowerment path. It’s not about you as the leader sharing your vision and goals with your team about where they are going with all this “empowerment stuff”. It’s about opening up the information ‘vault’ that has been locked for so many years. It’s about allowing team members to be a part of things like new company initiatives, financial information, and potential policy changes. Opening the flow of communication is simply increasing the level of knowledge team members have, to allow them to feel more like a partner and make better decisions from day to day.


When team members have more information, they feel like an ‘insider’, like a partner of the business. This alone creates a more dedicated employee and drives better decisions since they have the company’s best interest in mind. Having more information may also allow team members to make decisions that are more in line with the company’s overall objectives. You would be surprised by how many people working for you today have no idea what the company’s major objectives are.


Our second component on our path to empowerment is to Define the Boundaries. This one actually sounds like it would limit empowerment, but in reality team members need to understand the boundaries, or limits, before they feel confident taking on some decisions themselves. Our objective is to create well defined limits, where we will allow team members to act. Over time, we will begin to expand those limits or boundaries when we see our team clearly understands how and why they are making these decisions.


This is where many companies stop the process. The first major mistake, and we want to tighten the rope and retreat. When team members see this as a reaction to a mistake, they become even more hesitant to act on their own, and thus the evolution comes to a stop. As leaders we must expect mistakes along the way, just like the mistakes we have and will continue to make as we learn our role. Use these mistakes as a learning tool, but prepare your team in advance to expect group learning sessions from individual mistakes. Otherwise, team members will feel they are being singled out for the mistake.


Our final component is creating “Self-Directed Work Teams”. This component begins from the start, and will take a long period of time to accomplish. Getting your team members to come together as a group to solve problems takes a lot of guidance and support from you as they work through the various stages of team development.


Your team will need to understand and accept the fact that they are accountable for the decisions they make. Rather than simply making suggestions, they will actually take action upon making a decision. In the early stages, as the leader you will be involved in many of the discussions. But as your team develops, your role will change to one of distant support and removing road blocks for future success.



As a leader, there is nothing that we should feel more accomplished by than creating an empowered team that is effective and efficient. Much like raising a child, our role changes and evolves over time. We take great pride in watching our team members grow, learn, and take ownership of everything they do.

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