Book Summary: Empowerment Takes More Than a Minute – By Ken Blanchard, John Carlos and Alan Randolph

Customer loyalty is the gold standard to any business. Loyal customers have a higher life time value, refer more business and become advocates. They will not shop or leave you on price and they will give you another shot if you screw up. Customer satisfaction is not the same thing. Satisfied customers don’t necessarily buy again. The Holy Grail for any business is to create loyal customers. There is one catch. You cannot build loyal customers without engaged employees.

Why is this important to me?

I am not doing this summary to waste your time. It is my vision to provide concise action steps that you can adopt right now to enhance your life. People spend over 30% of their time on work related tasks. This is time spent away from family, friends and other activities. Gallup shows that 91% of employees are either disengaged or actively disengaged which means that they hate their work.

One major cause for disengagement is the fact that management does not trust their people. This is horrible because customers want action right now and if your frontline people are not empowered to make decisions then this process gets convoluted very fast causing customer frustration.

It is human nature to want to do a good job. If you were given a choice, would you want to do ordinary work or magnificent work? Everybody wants to do a good job but most people are in the wrong places so they have to use their weaknesses as primary strengths. Management has the wrong people in the wrong jobs.

Empowerment takes more than a minute is a short book with a good message. I will discuss some of the major points in this summary.

1. Empowerment – Empowerment is simply letting people do what they already know how to do. People want to do a good job but are afraid to because they are not empowered. Sharing information is a key step in starting an empowered organization.

2. Job Insecurity – Managers sometimes feel that if they give too much power to the people then they will be out of a job. I have seen this in every department throughout my career. It does not matter if it is Sales, Service or Development, people hoard work load to protect themselves. It is the leader’s job to craft the vision so people understand that as they let go of some work that they will get additional work as the company scales and grows.

3. Autonomy – People want autonomy and freedom to do a good job. The problem becomes a balancing act because management usually wants to keep a short leash on their direct reports. The way around this is to define what is expected in terms of goals and performance for your people and communicate the relevance of what they do. Each team member needs to have a personal scorecard that they measure their tasks each day.

4. Teams – The authors talk about self-directed teams. I agree that you need to reduce hierarchy and I would make one caveat about the teams. They need to be accountable, defined and small. Large teams will get wildly inefficient simply with the communications burden. Small teams are much more effective and should be kept to 5 people or less.

Empowerment is something that can transform an organization if used correctly. This book is a good guide on why it is important. Implementing a culture like this takes work. We are in the process of levering this up even more at our software company. The first thing we did was to work with each team member and communicate the relevance of their role and asked them for things that they could measure each day. All our departments have weekly scorecards but sometimes the individual measures for each job is different than the department measures.

I hope you have found this short summary useful. The key to any new idea is to work it into your daily routine until it becomes habit. Habits form in as little as 21 days. One thing you can take away from this book is individual scorecards. Engaging your people about the relevance of every job and theirs in particular is a great start and the individual scorecard will allow them to track the important measures of their job.

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