Mastery and purpose must exist before employees can be empowered

By William Seidman Anand Pillai is global head of talent transformation at HCL Technologies.  In the article Why more managers need to relinquish control Pillai lays out three principles to the “open source” management model:

  • Transfer the responsibility of change from the CEO to the company’s employees
  • Create a culture of inclusiveness
  • Be transparent with your employees
The language of managers “relinquishing control” suggests the core of the problem. It is expecting managers to give people “autonomy” BEFORE they or the organization are confident that the results will be positive. In our experience creating high performing organizations, there are two conditions required before management will empower people. First, there must be alignment on the core “purpose” of the organization. This is much more than the typical mission statement but is instead a compelling statement of the social good the organization hopes to achieve. If there is alignment on purpose, management can trust that people will do the right thing and are more comfortable giving up control. Second, people must be good at their jobs (mastery). When management believes that people are doing the right thing and can do the work well to achieve the big picture desired outcome, it’s easy to yield control to the team. Imagine situations where neither of these two conditions exist – i.e. people don’t know what they should be driving toward and aren’t very good at their job. Would you empower them? I doubt it. But when these conditions exist, empowerment is a powerful tool for improving organizational performance.]]>

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