Empower Employees: Try 3 Before Me

“Do or do not. There is no try.” Yoda, Star Wars’ Jedi Master 

Empowering team members is a tactic that leaders are encouraged to use. But is empowerment something leaders magically give to or do for others? Or do people already have tremendous power? I believe the answer is the latter. It is not a matter of giving your staff power but enabling them to use the power and skills they already have. Allow them to do.

Recently, a senior leader and I were discussing effective steps to accelerate a change in his managers’ behavior –[from them coming to him to solve problems to them solving problems on their own.] Here’s what he did.

Action / Management: Try Three Before Me

Request that an employee who reports to you try three solutions to solving a problem or making a decision that he typically asks you to do BEFORE approaching you for assistance.

I’ve seen this one simple but explicit change in behavior empower employees more quickly than anticipated. The leader noted above tried this action last year with much success. As it turns out, it was simply habit for his direct reports to come to him for help. With the Try 3 Before Me approach, his managers are now displaying more confidence in their decision-making.

Before starting Try 3 Before Me with your team, consider these three principles of employee empowerment:

  1. Share Goals and Direction: Share your most important goals and direction with your team. Let them know what you want to achieve. Make them part of the plan.
  2. Trust: Trust your team members to do the right thing and make the right decisions. Believe in your team.
  3. Assess: Provide frequent feedback so that your staff knows how they are doing. Providing regular periodic feedback helps employees improve their performance and excel in their work.

What techniques, principles or other ideas have you tried or heard of that work well in empowering your team members? Please share your insights so that others may learn from your experience.

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Sandra Schwan

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