The concept of empowerment is discussed by many supervisors, managers and executives as though it is their main approach to directing and motivating employees–and sometimes with a bit of arrogance about it: “I hereby send you forth to do things you think would be good to do. Isn’t it impressive that I’m showing confidence in you low-level employees?”
The reality is that telling employees they are empowered (authorized) to make decisions about their work is not always wise or even truthful. Doing so without guidelines or any requirement for supervisory or managerial approval can lead to serious problems. On the other hand, telling employees they are empowered, then frequently not approving their recommended actions, creates feelings that they were lied to about their authority. Perhaps the solution is to be sure everyone involved is defining and applying empowerment in the same way.
1. Are there requirements, limitations, restrictions, preferences or criteria for decisions and actions? If so, employees do not have carte blanche (full discretionary power). Let them know their limitations ahead of time. The most reasonable one is that employees must get approval from a supervisor before stopping one task to work on something preferred by the employee or before implementing a change in established procedures, allocating organizational resources or doing anything that could have an effect on the reputation or effectiveness of the organization.
Another criteria to consider: Will it be OK if the employee decides to not do something or to stop doing something or is empowerment only about innovation and improvement?
2. Is the employee trained, experienced and mentally and emotionally ready to be given authority over important decisions–and to accept responsibility for bad results just as they are to accept compliments for good results? One of the requirements for using power effectively is knowing the likely results of one’s actions. Not all supervisors, managers and executives are as knowledgeable as they should be, but they usually have a better idea of the Big Picture than the average employee who has not had the opportunity to see all of it.
That is another reason for limitations and requirements: You can bet the supervisor and manager will be held responsible for the work of employees, even when there is an ill-judged, empowered action. It would be like a football team owner telling players they are empowered to develop their own plays, then firing coaches when the plays don’t work. (Not a great analogy, but you get the idea.)
3. Is the word empowerment merely a way to encourage self-confidence, professional development and a feeling of belonging to the group or the organization? Many executives tell employees they are empowered, as a way to say that everyone is important and should look for ways to feel good about themselves and their work. If an employee can only suggest or propose, they really have no power over anything except their own attitudes and performance.
The bottom line: Each of us have the power to improve our work quality and quantity.
*We have the power to be a positive addition to the workplace, in spite of reasons to feel otherwise.
*We have the power to carefully consider our own work and suggest improvements in processes and procedures, then accept the yes or no about it.
*We have the power to be and do many things, without waiting to be told we are empowered.
Managers and supervisors should add to each employee’s feelings of strength and accomplishment by complimenting good work and giving correction and guidance for improvement. They should communicate the message that everyone can be a valued contributor by doing their work to a high standard while continuously seeking to improve their knowledge and skills.
Every employee, at every level, can be powerfully effective and powerfully proud of what they have achieved–a worthy goal for any organization, group or individual.
One of the great benefits of being a trainer and a presenter on a variety of topics is corresponding with many people, from around the world, who have thoughts to share or who want more information. I respond to dozens of emails a day, sometimes a couple of hundred a week, sending out free material on a variety of topics and writing personal notes to go with it–but time and life are getting in the way of that. I hope I have found a way to provide assistance without it being quite so time consuming.
I’ve realized over time that most people just want the material I distribute and aren’t interested in connecting with me personally (sad but true!). So, I’ve developed two new pages—one for Assessment Center material and one for Church Security material—to allow people to just download the items I’m distributing without charge.
I’ll be adding pages for Bold Patrol, Non-Sworn Leadership, Living Your Leadership Legacy, Ready, Aim Speak, Instructional Design and Instructor Development, Success as a Sergeant, Leading and Developing a Supervisory Team and other topics for which I provide training and free material.
I’d love to hear from you! If you want to send a personal note or have a question, I’m happy to respond if you’ll use the Contact Me tab. But, if you only want to get the material now and contact me later, this will allow you to do it and will save me the time involved.
I provide training and presentations too. I enjoy providing free material, but my livelihood depends upon my work! After presenting a seminar or giving a speech I provide other material and often follow-up with participants. Keep me in mind for a wide range of training and speaking. I don’t cold call, so I’ll await a contact from you or your group! Tina Lewis Rowe-Trainer and Presenter
Thank you for giving me the opportunity to be a resource for you.
Denver Police Department, Captain (ret.)
United States Marshal, Colorado (ret.)
On Wednesday, April 13th, I’ll be teaching a seminar on safety and security for places of worship from 9:00 a.m. until 3:30 p.m., at the West Des Moines, Iowa, Police Department. It’s for church leaders and volunteers, police officers and volunteers, police chaplains, and anyone who is a resource for safety and security for places of worship–all faiths, denominations and church settings. The fee is $75 and a box lunch is provided. You’ll receive a lot of e-files from which you can copy and paste–and the training has substance and quality content.
As with all of my training about safety and security for places of worship, this will have a whole-church focus, rather than being focused primarily on dealing with violence and disruption—as important as that is to be concerned about. This training is useful for anyone who wants to gain information and inspiration about the Big Picture of safety and security for all of the People, Places, Property, Processes and Programs of a place of worship.
In the seminar I recently taught in Southlake, Texas, one of the participants said, “I never thought I’d say I want training to last longer, but I could have stayed on for several more hours.” Another one said, “This was the most useful training on this topic that I’ve ever attended. I have a list of over twenty things to take care of right away.” (Those are the reactions I love to hear!)
All you have to do to register is to send me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or call me and let me know. Checks or cash are payable at the door or by invoice to a church or organization for a check sent in the mail.
I hope those of you in the area can attend and bring several people with you. See you in West Des Moines!
Tina Rowe (303) 324-3988
Church Security-Tina Rowe-March 10-Southlake.doc
On March 10th, I’ll be doing a class at the Southlake, Texas Police Department’s training center. It’s low-cost–just $75 and lunch is provided.
The link above will open a PDF of the advertisement, so you can save it and forward it to others, or print it. All that is needed to register is to send me an email with the names of attendees and a way to contact them with pre-class material. I don’t track who downloads ads and it’s all perfectly safe and secure!
I want this training to be successful and I know it takes local support to make it happen. If you live near Southlake, Texas, please consider attending this class, which you’ll find to be enjoyable as well as informative, and also let others know about it. It works well to bring a group, so everyone can share ideas later.
See you in Southlake!
Marie Antoinette didn’t say “Let them eat cake.”
Marie Antoinette (1768-Wagenshon)
I know the quotation attributed to Marie Antoinette is in error and she almost certainly did not say it or anything like it. (Check out the many Internet references about the infamous non-quote.) However, it has taken its place in history as an example of supreme ignorance about the reality of a situation. It also is an example of thinking that one’s own reality is the only one there is. We can benefit from being careful about expressing opinions and judgments based on our own realities, when we are ignorant of the reality of others.
“Why do they have babies if they can’t feed them?” I recall, with embarrassment, when I was a very young woman and heard a missionary speak about starving children in a war-torn African country. The slides were horrific and then–as now–it was gut-wrenching and heartbreaking to see the despair in the eyes of mothers and children. Later I talked to the speaker and said, (I blush to admit it), “Why do they have babies if they can’t feed them?” He looked at me with disgust and I hope some pity, and said, “Well, very young lady from Kansas, first, they have no way to prevent conception except abstinence and second, they have no choice about abstaining. They don’t ‘get pregnant’ they are impregnated. Your comment shows how far you are from understanding the problem.”
That ignorance on my part, as well as other personal examples, is one of the many reasons I truly work at trying to understand the big picture of almost everything. Often there is some aspect of a situation that I have failed to consider and once I consider it I have a different opinion. Often I can at least see there are multiple issues involved and there are no one-sided solutions. It’s one reason I don’t get involved in political discussions or arguments on topics about which I don’t have a lot of knowledge–that pretty much covers most things.
Closed Minds and Ignorant Remarks
“How dare the government interfere with good parenting? Recently I read an article by a writer who was outraged (a word that is certainly overused on the Internet) about an ad campaign in a major city, encouraging women to not have their babies sleeping with them. Commenters wrote of boycotting the city and writing letters to the mayor. One said she was sick and tired of the government interfering with good parenting and she equated it to government agents going door to door to take away our constitutional rights. One said it made her even more determined to co-sleep with her baby. (Good for her, that will teach the government a lesson they won’t soon forget.)
They are ignorant of the reality that not all mothers and fathers are educated about the dangers of suffocation, not all mothers or fathers are sleeping with a caring partner, and not all parents are capable of protecting an infant sleeping with them in a bed or on a sofa or on a mattress on the floor or in the backseat of a car. There had been several infant suffocation deaths in that city within the previous few months and the ads were an effort to protect babies. There was no law about it, merely an effort to educate. The outrage of the writer and commenters is based on their reality of a clean bed with only one or two sober or conscious people in it–and they think everyone lives like that. They need a bigger picture of reality before they boycott the city.
“Why doesn’t he leave us alone and let us do our jobs?” Recently an acquaintance was complaining about his new supervisor’s requirements for various tasks. The requirements sounded absurd to me so I figured there had to be other perspectives the employee wasn’t considering. Sure enough, there were. After he explained what had been going on before the new supervisor arrived, he said he could see why the new supervisor would need to make changes. He still didn’t like all of the changes but he could understand them and work within them. He also decided to communicate more positively with the supervisor so he could share his own views and opinions.
“How can they justify…..?” “Why don’t they…..? (Said about almost anything the angry or frustrated person doesn’t do, doesn’t agree with or doesn’t understand.) Every topic about which one view holds that other views are evil, crazy, stupid or in error, can often benefit from being examined to find other perspectives. There are a few things in this world that are definitely right and wrong but most are not so certain. Challenge yourself, every time you hear outrage, absolute judgments and angry statements that do not consider other views, to look for those other perspectives and at least consider them and the impact they have on the situation.
Then, challenge yourself to purposely avoid the equivalent of saying someone or some group should eat cake, unless you know for sure and with expertise what you’re talking about.
Can You Be Yourself In Your Assessment Center?
Someone who knows my thoughts about how to best prepare for an Assessment Center copied a review of my book from the Amazon site and sent it to me, indignant over how wrong he thought it was. The reviewer gave me five stars and essentially said my book proves his belief that you can’t do well in an Assessment Center promotional process if you say what you really think and use your real experiences.
I assume the person who wrote the review had participated in an Assessment Center and didn’t get promoted and saw someone he didn’t respect or like get promoted instead. Or perhaps he read my book and decided he didn’t even want to test because he thought he would have act phony to do well. I’m sorry about that and I know he would feel differently if he fully understood the process or had talked to experienced assessors.
Often a candidate will not rate as high as he expected and assume one thing he said in one exercise was the sole cause. Assessment Center results are based on more than one or two ratings. In a typical process a candidate may receive 45 ratings (3 exercises x 5 competency areas x 3 assessors). Unless a candidate says something that is outrageously wrong or offensive it will have very little effect on his or her overall results. Another thing to consider is that a candidate usually does not have access to the notes or discussions of assessors, so he would not know all of the issues upon which they based their ratings. Even if he received a feedback report, it only summarizes a few notes, not all.
I replied to the reviewer’s comments and asked him to contact me six to eight months before his next test, so I can send some additional material and maybe talk to him about it. I want to help him see that he can use his experiences and personal philosophies, if they reflect the best practices of the profession and are appropriate for the testing exercises in which he is participating.
How Effective Is The Real You?
Even if you are not in the law enforcement profession or are not participating in promotional testing, you may feel that you must submerge your real feelings, your fundamental beliefs and your real personality, to be successful or accepted. If it is true, you may be in the wrong work, school or personal setting or trying to get into the wrong setting. Find the place or situation where you can flourish. Or, you may find you can flourish where you are if you adjust or change some aspects of what you consider to be the real you.
It’s hard to accept, but often we have habits, peculiarities, traits, idiosyncrasies, opinions and foibles that cause others to reject us–and until we make some changes we will never be fully successful. Or, like some very successful people have found–they could save themselves a lot of trouble and stress if they weren’t the real them quite so often!
What is waiting for you?
July 14, 2015 will always be a date in the history of NASA and an important date for astronomers and all of us who are interested in the cosmos. New Horizons, the NASA space probe, planned since 1990 and launched in 2006, flew by Pluto, the small planet, one sixth the size of earth and smaller than our moon, and took a photo for us. As it turns out, Pluto has a heart-shape on the visible side (although some heartless people have said it looks like a cosmic giant sat down and left an imprint). I prefer the heart image, because it can seem that Pluto has been waiting four and half billion years to say, “Hi, Earth! I love you!” (Probably followed by a muttered, “Now, go away and don’t mess me up, too.”)
Here is what I like about all of it: We didn’t just now discover Pluto and it wasn’t recently formed, it has been there all this time. We didn’t expect to “get something” from it, we just wanted to say we have seen it and we know it better than before. The motivation to explore Pluto from above was primarily because most humans are gifted with a desire to keep searching for new horizons–in our solar system and in our lives and spirits.
What is waiting for you? The test of optimism and courage for many of us is to have faith that no matter what our age or our past experiences, something good is patiently waiting for us–and it may have been there all along. (However, you’ll notice that Pluto didn’t come to us, we went to Pluto. Life is like that.)
Hey, Pluto! I ♥ You Too!
Why Don’t They Manage and Supervise?
Bet you thought this was a lion, huh?
The quick answer to why managers and supervisors seem to not want to be involved in problems, fail to deal with issues, seem oblivious to concerns and neglect many tasks that need to be done, is that often when they attempt to fulfill the roles of a manager or supervisor they get such negative feedback and unpleasant results that it seems to not be worth the effort.
That is the quick answer. However, that can be an excuse for those who never really wanted to take on unpleasant tasks that require careful consideration. They want the position, the title and the salary, but not the hassle. Like Tipper, in the photo, they might wear the costume of a lion (or leader), but they aren’t really a lion (or a leader) at heart.
What about those who seem to have no trouble being bossy and unpleasant, even though they let everything go to heck around them? Well, it is easy to snap at everyone, storm around and be self-absorbed, but not so easy to analyze a specific problem or a problematic person and develop an effective plan of action. A manager or supervisor who is innately mean-spirited will nearly always fall back on being unpleasant when he or she runs out of knowledge and skills.
What about managers and supervisors who are nice people who seem to really want to do well, but things are going to heck around them, too? If a manager or supervisor only feels confident about jollying people out of their bad moods, sympathizing, mild counseling, or making excuses for problem behaviors and performance, that is what he or she will do.
If you are a manager or supervisor, consider how well-managed your team is right now:
*Adequate staff every day–or at least ensuring that all the staff are being used effectively.
*Administrative details handled on time.
*Resources being used correctly.
*The whole group and the work they do moving forward and improving all the time.
Supervision will be demonstrated by:
*Consistent and accurate on-site or at-desk observation of work and how it is being done.
*Immediate response to concerns or the first hint of problematic behavior or performance.
*Appreciating good work, even routine work.
*Looking out for everyone and how they are being treated within the group and by others.
*Keeping the work environment free of distractions and negative influences. If something distracts people from their focus on good work, it’s a negative influence.
*Motivating messages and encouragement.
*Getting the work done well and on time.
*Ensuring that policies and procedures are followed consistently.
*Building relationships with employees, customers and clients, other supervisors and a network of contacts.
*Providing service to customers and clients at a high level, without exception.
*Being an example of good work, all the time.
If you are an employee who is discouraged or irritated at your manager or supervisor, think about the times when their valid efforts have been met with resistance, even by you if the action wasn’t your preference. You might have some empathy for why they don’t make an effort anymore. That’s not a good excuse for them now, but may make a difference in your responses in the future.
The bottom line: Why don’t managers and supervisors manage and supervise? 1.) Their own managers and supervisors don’t make them do it. 2. Employees don’t like it most of the time. 3.) They never wanted to do it. 4.) It requires skill and knowledge they don’t possess. 5.) They think showing up and having the title is all that is required of them.
Don’t you be that kind of manager or supervisor. Self-evaluate often and ask others to evaluate you as well. Make it your goal to consistently and completely do the work you said you would do–for your sake and for the sake of those who rely upon you to do it.
I’ve been told often that if only someone would have known there was going to be a seminar, they would have attended. As a result I’m putting this where those seeking the material I distribute will see it if they visit here.
How to be a Safety and Security Resource for Places of Worship
Wednesday, June 17, 2015
9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Southlake Police Department Training Center
100 East Dove Road
$65 per person–contact me about a discount for over three or more registrations
Open to police officers and non-sworn staff as well as church leaders, staff and volunteers.
This seminar provides immediately applicable material to help every participant be a reasonable and practical resource for whole-church safety and security.
*The five components of a comprehensive program of safety and security.
*How to conduct on-site assessments and train others for ongoing and consistent inspections.
*How to develop checklists, guidelines, plans and procedures.
*Gaining cooperation and support –and keeping it going.
*Developing effective materials and briefings.
Contact me by using the Contact tab, for registrations or to ask questions about the seminar. It will be an enjoyable day, filled with useful information and inspiration!
Hosanna! Church, in Lakeville, Minnesota, hosted a church safety and security seminar last week and it was a wonderful event! Jim Caauwe, a long-time law enforcement professional who is now in charge of the Crime Prevention program for the Savage PD, did a massive amount of work to make it happen and it really worked out well. There were over 200 attendees and an equal number of positive thoughts about the day.
I presented about the components of a complete program for the first half of the day and Jim talked about inspections and assessments in the afternoon. We had a sack lunch to help maximize the time, but many people said they would have stayed longer.
If your church or a group of churches or one or more police or sheriff’s departments want to get together to help make a seminar happen, let me know. It’s a two or three month process but is wonderful outreach for any group.
As always, the emphasis of the seminar was on whole-church safety and security–all of the People, Places, Property, Programs and Processes of a place of worship. It’s an upbeat and practical program. Consider it for the churches of your community!