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Saturday, December 17, 2011

Empowering Employees to Make Decision

On several occasions, I'm asked to emphasize decision making in my supervisory and management skills workshop, which actually is needless to say because decision-making is in deed an important part of it. The reason for this "special request" is that managers think their employees can't or don't have the skill to make sound decisions.

More often than not, they are right about their employees' inability to decide but wrong about the lack of skill. As a matter of fact, the right decisions are often just hanging there not being taken because those who are expected to make decisions do not have the... (drum roll please) needed empowerment to make them!

Employees' inability to decide is a good indicator of no empowerment. It's not a matter of "can't" but more a matter of 'Won't!' They won't because of the risk involved in making decisions which include blame, punishment and loss of trust. Imagined or not, this barrier to decision making are not without reason. Legacy events normally cause people to sort of learn from those experiences and try not to make the same mistakes again. When I say mistake I mean the mistake of taking it upon themselves to decide.

Failure to empower is caused by managers' inability to apply the right directing styles in given situations. These errors are costly in the manager-employee relationship because they cause failed expectations on both sides. I believe that if managers want their employees to be accustomed to making decisions, they need to get them ready for it and then help them develop more confidence not only in their ability to decide but confidence in the relationship.  Yes my friends, empowerment is not just a leadership issue, it's a team building issue. If your managers don't know how to lead and how to build teamwork, it will be fairly difficult to get people to make decisions where and when it counts.

Four factors are necessary for people to become empowered to make sound decisions, first they have to be in the job they are good at. This means hiring the right person for the job. Second, they need to develop the necessary skills to do their job. This means training. Third, they need to develop confidence in making decisions that matter. This means coaching and mentoring. Fourth, they need to know the boundaries of their decision making power. Being unclear about the boundaries is just like being in a really dark cave. you won't move a muscle because you don't know what you'll be stepping into next.

Check out this course if you wish to train your managers about delegation and empowerment.

Ed Ebreo - Applying Situational Leadership Workshop


  1. Anonymous10:56 AM

    If a certain employee was sick and failed to file an application for leave immediately upon his return for work, he only filed two days after he reported, is it right that he can no longer avail or no longer entitled to offset his absences against to his earned leave credits? and deducted his absences from his salary?

  2. What does your company policy say about this? I used to work in a company where sick and emergency leaves are to be filed immediately upon return, otherwise, the leave application will not be honored anymore. Nothing wrong there if it's in the policy communicated properly to employees.

  3. This actually benefits the organization in the end as employees feel more confident and responsible


If you have an opinion about this topic or a related experience you want to share, please feel free to leave a comment but please be respectful. No bad words please or I will be constrained to delete it.