The word “empower” means to “put power into.” When you empower your staff by encouraging and motivating them, they become more powerful in achieving the results that you need from them. Excellent managers are continually seeking ways to make people feel better about themselves. They constantly praise, encourage, and reward positive behaviors. They build self-esteem and self-confidence by “catching people when they are doing something right.”
Many thousands of employees have been interviewed and asked about the qualities of the best managers they have ever worked for. It turns out that the best managers practice the four C’s in their interactions with their staff.
The first “C” is Clarity. It turns out that the greatest motivator in the world of work is knowing exactly what is expected. The greatest demotivator, on the other hand, is not knowing what is expected. The best managers take the time to be absolutely clear with each employee about what that employee is expected to do, and in what order of priority, and to what standard of performance. Everybody knows and understands their job. This is a real key to empowerment.
The second “C” stands for Consideration. Employees described their best managers with the words, “I always felt he considered me as a person as well as an employee.” The best managers take the time to show consideration and concern for the personal lives of their employees. They listen patiently when their employees want to talk. They commiserate with them when they have problems. They ask about their families, and they recognize their birthdays. They treat their employees as special and important people.
In my company, fully half of my employees, men and women, have young children. So do I. Early on, I recognized the stress that a person can experience if their child has a problem or need of any kind. I therefore instituted a policy called “children come first.”
Under this policy, any of my employees can leave at any time if one of their children requires their presence. No time or pay is deducted. If, for some reason, their child requires their attention, and they cannot come into work, we find a way to work around it. But “children come first.”
How has this policy worked? In ten years, the policy has never been abused. When you treat people as responsible, intelligent adults, they act like responsible, intelligent adults. The best part of all is that none of my staff feel any stress or pressure about their children because “children come first.” And surprise, surprise! The job always gets done. This is a pol- icy that I would heartily recommend to any business or organization. What it does for morale is absolutely wonderful.
The third “C” stands for Caring. Excellent managers genuinely care about the members of their staff. And each person feels this sense of caring by the company and by the manager. When people feel cared for by their superiors, they are empowered to give of their very best.
Caring is a wonderful way to build loyalty and commitment among your people. As they say, “They don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” This is very true.
The fourth “C” stands for Courtesy. One of the best ways to approach employees and team members today is to treat them as if they were volunteers. Imagine that they have given up their time voluntarily to come to work for you at no pay. If you think of them as volunteers, working for you out of the good- ness of their hearts, without pay, you will treat them very differently than the old-school way of “Do it my way or hit the highway.”
The practice of courtesy requires that you speak politely and respectfully to each person. You treat them at all times as if they were important customers of your business. You say “Thank you” for everything they do for you.
Perhaps the best management principle of all is what I call “Golden Rule Management.” Treat every person who works for you exactly as you would want them to treat you if you were working for them. It often happens in our turbulent economy that a person who is a manager today finds himself or herself working for a subordinate a couple of years from now. Be sure to treat everybody who works for you today as if you might be working for them at a future time. This will keep you on your best behavior.