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Broom Handlers

Posted by Parham, SPHR, Eddy at Wednesday, 06/06/2012 9:07 pm
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3.2 from 31 votes
by Eddy Parham, OD Guy

       I’m often amazed at how involved some in leadership positions become in the work of their direct reports. A mentor of mine once told me that if I was doing the work that should go to my employees, then I didn’t need those employees. Essentially what he was telling me was this: Empower your people. If I hired competent people who understood their role within the organization then those employees will do what was expected of them if I would get out of their way. The only reason that I should be doing their work is if they weren’t as competent as they should be. And, if that was the case then I need to find and hire employees who were competent, which is probably a topic better covered at a different time.

       In his book It’s Not About The Coffee, Howard Behar writes

It’s not only executives and managers who should feel empowered to make their own decisions, but all people throughout an organization. After all, who is better equipped to choose the broom than the guy who sweeps the floor?

Many companies are so bogged down with management and organizational layers that decisions directly affecting the day-to-day of an individual’s job are often made without his or her input. Ideally, everyone who will be affected by a particular decision or change should be involved in the process at some level or should have their views taken into consideration. Once everyone has come to an agreement about what needs to be accomplished, then the people with the hands-on expertise can follow through in the most effective way.

In the case of brooms, the people who know about things like getting the best price for brooms and how many the whole company will need can enter the picture and perhaps select five brooms that make sense from a purchasing perspective. But why in the world would you want to leave the final selection to the person sitting back in the purchasing department, when he or she will never touch it? The person who uses the broom should decide on which one to buy.

       I believe that Behar makes several good points here. First, trust your people to do the right thing. You’ve hired them for their expertise in a particular area so let them “do their thing”. Second, you might have to guide them in the decision making process if they are not flying high enough to see the bigger picture. In other words, they may know how to sweep and what type of equipment will work best in a given situation but they may not understand how to deal with a vendor, what to include in a contract, et cetera and you may have to help them through that process.

       When you empower your employees you do a number of things. Rather than you experiencing a loss of control, you will actually experience an immediate gain in commitment on the part of your employees. This in turn will lead to increased productivity, employee satisfaction, and engagement. And with employee engagement levels hovering around 31% worldwide and 29% U.S., we should certainly do everything possible to ensure that our Broom Handlers pick their broom of choice.

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