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Friday, January 31, 2020

Lean Quote: Empowerment and Delegation

On Fridays I will post a Lean related Quote. Throughout our lifetimes many people touch our lives and leave us with words of wisdom. These can both be a source of new learning and also a point to pause and reflect upon lessons we have learned. Within Lean active learning is an important aspect on this journey because without learning we can not improve.

"I don’t know about management techniques as such. I only know about engineering and people. The most important thing is the respect for people within the corporation and so it is incumbent on the managers to create an environment within a corporation in which all employees are encouraged to take initiatives in carrying out the work and doing the work with pleasure.  — Soichiro Honda, Honda Motor Co., Ltd.

One challenge many managers experience surrounds delegation. You can’t do everything yourself which means you need to respectfully delegate work throughout your team. Leaders need to motivate and empower their employees to want to work for you and with you.  

Empowerment may not be a new concept to you, but many organizations experience problems because they don’t know how to ‘live it’. It is still too common for ‘delegation’ and ‘empowerment’ to be confused, and for the latter to be regarded as something you can use over somebody else, like having authority. 

Empowerment is not delegation because:  

Empowerment is where the organisation has enabled or coached the employee and now continues to support that person within the scope of his or her own work, as previously agreed

Delegation is about giving away parts of your own job to someone else; it is not about giving people scope within their own jobs 

However, the processes involved in delegating should be similar to those for empowering. With empowerment, accountability and responsibility rest with the person empowered. With delegation, responsibility can be passed on but accountability for ensuring the work is done stays with the person who delegated the task.

An empowered organisation encourages the entire company to believe in empowerment and checks to see that the ‘infrastructure’ for empowerment is in place.

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