When deciding to found Aptus the one thing I wanted as soon as possible was to hire staff, build a team and create something everyone can be proud of. When I took that leap of faith in hiring staff the environment I tried to create was one where people could work in a way which works best for them rather than expecting them to do it the way that works for me. This however is easier said than done.
What I was trying to give every staff member who joined Aptus is Empowerment, I just didn’t know how. So what is empowerment? Basically it’s providing your staff with autonomy in doing their job when, how, where they personally get the best result. For some employers this is very scary, I dare say most leaders are borderline control freaks, therefore giving control to the individual is very scary indeed. What we need to acknowledge is do we genuinely want to empower our staff, if so we have to let go to an extent.
Over the years I’ve learned empowering our people isn’t as simple as simply providing a desk, PC and phone; saying off you go, do your stuff. It’s a lot more than this. When recruiting our people we must understand what level of support they need and want, often wants and needs are very different so finding that middle ground is important from the outset, at least in the early period of the relationship. Everyone is different so we must provide a basic varying levels of support, framework and guidelines to work within. Then collectively find the middle the zone which suits the individual.
The one key ingredient I always had and always will is trust. Without trust, Empowerment cannot produce the best results. Trust however works both ways. We must trust our staff to do the right thing and they must trust that we trust them. If our staff don't truly believe we trust them to do their best with autonomy, ie not take advantage of the freedom we give them, they won't feel empowered. If staff don't feel empowered to do their best in a way which works for them it’s unlikely we’ll get the best out of them without managing them very closely.
To summarise my fifth lesson in ten years as a business owner, if we want to empower our people we need to have trust in place. The relationship will be at its strongest, our staff will want to work as hard as possible for the common cause and the workplace becomes all the more enjoyable.
If you would like to recap on lessons 1, 2, 3 & 4 please click on the links below: