[nrp soundbites] How to empower – Tip #1: Trust, not fear

[30 June 2021] Day 30 of the nrp* in Malaysia

Hey, you wrote about how important it is to empower people. Can you tell us how to do it?” Someone texted me when he read my previous post.
I agree, it will certainly be more helpful. Since these are soundbites, let me break it down.

The first tip is to look at why there’s room for improvement in your organisation. Not why it is needed — that has already been established yesterday. But what are the stumbling blocks that we need to overcome.

Is there a lack of awareness? Is it because this has always been the way it is done? Or you don’t think your employees are capable enough? You don’t trust them? Or deep down, is there a fear of empowerment? Only you can answer this honestly.

Start by removing these barriers. If you want your employees to go the extra mile, it is not about going out to look for new ones. It’s about creating an environment in which your current employees feel safe to do it.

Stop fearing; Start trusting

I have met managers who fear that when their staff do better, their position will be threaten. So they withhold information and give half-instructions just so that they can look good in comparison. I had one such manager. Each time he gives me a task, he would always make sure it is not complete. So, I will always fail in front of the bigger bosses. But he forgot one thing — I can read. After I realised what was going on, I always did my research and found the missing piece of information.

So what happened to me after awhile? I got better at my work and was given higher responsibilities eventually. What happened to him? He stayed put and continued to complain that his team members are always making mistakes, making him look bad. And he ‘always had to come in to rescue them‘. He certainly looked at them as his competitor. What he didn’t realise was that the bigger bosses looks at the performance of his team as a reflection of his leadership. So, the strategy of tripping your own team members is counter-productive. I feel sad for him. He was a smart person,a very good developer but his fear worked against him.

Then there’s the business owner who feel that once his employees are empowered, they will leave and compete with him. Yes, that happens all the time. It happens whether you do it or not. The only question I have is “Do you prefer to empower them and they leave, or do you prefer that they remain as ineffective and stay?” Some may prefer the latter. It’s totally acceptable if they are happy with their business growth rate and the amount of energy they have to put in themselves. Employees who want to thrive will still leave eventually because the environment will be too stifling for them. Either they will leave to help your competitor or they will start their own business to compete with you.

Here’s one idea for those in this position: Instead of looking at people who leave as competition, look for ways to collaborate. This is how you can turn a win-lose situation into a win-win. My friend’s boss did that — he invested in my friend’s new business.

Start by trusting. It is an investment into the future.

(Read more about empowerment)
(*nrp stands for National Recovery Plan.)
(Feature Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay.)

About the Author: Gina Phan is a consultant and trainer with Zinfinity Consulting. She currently conducts courses in workplace performance skills. Click here to contact her, follow her on Facebook or connect with her on Linkedin.

Read her other posts.

#leadership #servantleadership #empower #empowermenttips
#trainergina #ginaphan #gp

[nrp soundbites] Why leaders should empower their employees?

[28 June 2021] Day 28 of NRP Phase 1* in Malaysia

Remember the days where we had to go to the bank to deposit a cheque? Back in the day, I would arrive at the banking hall, take my queue number and wait for my turn. When my number is called, I approach the counter, present the cheque and my savings account book. The bank officer the bank would take both, process it and then pass it over to someone with a higher authority to checkmark on the slip before my attempt to put money into my own account is considered successful. I have always been amazed as to how inefficient this process is. Not only does it take longer to complete a transaction, but it shows how disempowered the person working at the counter is.

Continue reading

[fmco soundbites] I thought I was being empathetic, really.

[27 June 2021] Day 27 of the fmco* in Malaysia

Yesterday, I posted about how a leader should be empathetic. This is not something that we can get right all the time. It can be pretty tricky.

Many years ago, one of my co-worker was going through a difficult time because her mother was at the last stages in her battle with cancer. After work, she would rush to the hospital and stay with her mom throughout the night. I did not know at first but detected some change in the quality of her work. When I talked to her, she explained her situation to me.

Continue reading

[fmco soundbites] Speak or don’t speak?

[22 June 2021] Day 22 of fmco* in Malaysia

Imagine you are attending a talk and the speaker says something that is factually wrong. Or you are in a conversation and the other person is clearly saying something based on a wrong assumption. Or someone tells you that something cannot be done in a certain way although you have been doing it successfully all this time.

What do you do? Sometimes, I encounter these situations and am not sure if I should speak up or not?

Continue reading

[fmco soundbites] Extreme micro-managing

a lot of clocks
[19 June 2021] Day 19 of fmco* in Malaysia

Yesterday, a friend sent me a link to a Facebook post (someone else’s) that talked about how his company micro-manages them now during the lockdowns. I was amazed at the extreme this company went to micro-manage.

The company had installed a screen activity tracker on the computers that are used by the employees. The system sits in the background and tracks if there are any mouse movement or typing activity on the computer. After a certain period, if they detect that there are none, a window will pop up to verify why they have been idle. The system will ask if they are still on the break or if they want to continue working. And the system will screenshot everything that is displayed on the computer. (Alert: this may have broken some privacy laws if personal data was displayed.)

When I wrote about the invisible leader being visible, this is certainly not what I was referring to. LOL!

Why do people micromanage?

Micro-management involves the close supervision of an employee by a manager. The term has a negative connotation because it stems from distrust and does not promote autonomy. Many are clock-watchers as in the case of using the screen tracker.

There are many reasons employers micro-manage their team members. Fear drives many of the behaviors they exhibit. Here are some common reasons why people micro-manage:

  • Loss of control over projects
  • Unskilled employees on team
  • Belief that work deemed superior to their own may make them look inadequate
  • Extreme need for control and domination
  • Poor self-image and insecurities
  • Inexperience in management
Micro-management is damaging

This distrust damages relationships with your staff. According to Brigette Hyacinth, the long term negative effects on the business are:

  1. Decreased productivity
  2. Reduced innovation
  3. Lower morale
  4. High staff turnover

If you think you have a tendency to micro-manage, take time to do self assessment. What is the real fear, deep down? Perhaps, it’s not fear but you need to learn how to teach, not tell.

fmco = Full Movement Control Order

About the Author: Gina Phan is a consultant and trainer with Zinfinity Consulting. She currently conducts courses in workplace performance skills. Click here to contact her, follow her on Facebook or connect with her on Linkedin.

Read her other posts.

#micromanage #micromanager #fear #leadership #management
#trainergina #ginaphan #gp

(Feature Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay.)

[fmco soundbites] Social isolation despite the noise

[18 June 2021] Day 18 of the fmco* in Malaysia

18th March 2020 – the first day Malaysia went into the lock-down for the first time as a response to the spread Covid-19 virus. There was a lot of uncertainties as people prepared to start the work-from-home (wfh) regime. For a few, this is what wfh may have looked like – a nice, quiet corner in the house, away from human traffic, where you can set up your computer, sit down with a cup of coffee and your favourite pastry. No phone calls. No interruptions from office mates. And no traffic jams. Just peace and quiet.


Continue reading

[fmco soundbites] The org chart (part 8) – Becoming invisible

[17 June 2021] Day 17 of the fmco* in Malaysia

Some leaders want to build the organisation and community centred on them and their abilities. While others prefer to truly serve his people from behind. A few days ago, I wrote about the Lion Dance troupe. One of the major roles in the community is its invisible leader.

In most lion dance troupe, the sifu is the owner/founder/guru. Nobody knows more than him. He is respected by his students and by his peers. (cue Wong Fei Hong theme song) And yet, most times, he is not seen and does not seem to take up any role in the performance. People know his abilities through the work of his students. His presence is felt.

Continue reading

[fmco soundbites] A common thinking trap

a finger caught in a mouse trap
[16 June 2021] Day 16 of the fmco* in Malaysia

Have you ever felt certain about something – like someone doesn’t like you – but you don’t ever try to find out for real? Or you are anxious about the future? Perhaps you worry about how other people are thinking or you seem to think disaster is inevitable. These are thinking traps that sometimes take over our rational mind. Also known as cognitive distortions, thinking traps are deeply ingrained in our psyche. 

Continue reading

[fmco soundbites] The org chart (part 7) – Self Awareness

picture of a man in Guy Fawkes mask looking at a smaller Gur Fawkes mask in his right hand
[15 June 2021] Day 15 of the fmco* in Malaysia

Who am I?
Back in 1979, one of my favourite songs was Supertramp’s Logical Song. There’s one part in which they sing “I know it sounds absurd, Please tell me who I am….” Self-awareness can be rare.
A holistic understanding of the various approaches in servant leadership requires self-awareness in the leader.

Often, people in positions of authority and power are blissfully ignorant of their own strengths, as well as their shortcomings. We need to be conscious of how our own behavior, the expression of our values and emotions, and our psychological biases affect those around us. This becomes even more essential during critical moments. It is key to establishing trust and openness in your team.

Continue reading

[fmco soundbites] The org chart (part 5) – Committed to others

[12 June 2021] Day 12 of the fmco* in Malaysia

Wolves are interesting animals. The wolf has these indispensable qualities: sociability, and a capacity for learning, communication, and expression. According to Living with Wolves blog, they live in well-coordinated and collaborative packs. They form unique bonds and care for each other individually, which is the foundation of their cooperative living. In short, they are devoted and committed to the pack.

What great leadership lessons we can derive from them?

Continue reading

[fmco soundbites] Authenticity in business communication

[11 June 2021] Day 11 of the fmco* in Malaysia

Today, I take a break from the upside-down org chart series to talk about being authentic in communication. This applies to leaders as well as anyone else in the organisation.

The business landscape has changed and will carry on changing. Authentic communication is now required in all levels of conversations – whether it’s between government officials with the people, an employer with an employee, or between a business and its customers.

Continue reading

[fmco soundbites] The org chart (part 4) – Compassion

[10 June 2021] Day 10 of the fmco* in Malaysia

The upside down organisation chart and how a compassionate leader can inspire people to new heights.

My friend, Jasmine shared her experience to me. She used to head the smaller Malaysian office for a US-based company and had been working there for about 8 years when it happened. I am sure you agree that her boss showed what compassion at the workplace means in real terms.

Continue reading