August 15, 2018

Balancing Communication & Empowerment

A look at how to find the balance between empowerment and communication in order to help create a great self organizing team.

Balancing Communication & Empowerment

As I have mentioned many times before, one of the goals of the team is to make them self-organizing. As a team progresses along this path the levels of empowerment and communication will start to change and ultimately you will need to find a balance between the two.

"I Intend To..."

One of the ways to increase the level of empowerment, while still maintaining the required level of communication, is to use the "I intend to..." technique. Typically, when someone wants to do something they typically ask the leaders something along the lines of "Can I do...". This results in a low form of empowerment and communication, as you are essentially always asking for permission and not taking full ownership of the item.

If you use the "I intend to..." technique it encourages empowerment as it doesn't seek permission. This increases communication as you keep people informed, and if they have concerns they can discuss them. If you look at it on a graph it would look like the following:

Good Empowerment & Communication

At level 1, you have poor communication and low empowerment. Essentially, this is your boss telling you something along the lines of "Do this report for me by Friday". There is very little room for either empowerment or communication. On level 5, which is essentially the "I intend to..." technique, you have high levels of empowerment and high levels of communication.

"I Have Done..."

If the empowerment gets taken to far, it can lead to "I have done..." conversations which can be detrimental, as communication has taken a back seat and can have some disastrous ramifications. Basically, it is empowerment taken to far as people feel that they don't need any permission and hence there is no need to talk to their leader. Again, as a graph this would look something like this:

Bad Empowerment & Communication

Ideally, you need to find that sweet spot between communication and empowerment and this is where "I intend to..." fits right in.

Until next time...keep learning!!!