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Chapter 15. Power, Power. Who's Got the ... > Making Empowerment Work in the Team - Pg. 190

Power, Power. Who's Got the Power? 190 FYI Empowerment often fails when members are reluctant to make decisions for fear of making mistakes. Build trust by pointing out but appreciating honest mistakes as long as they were made in the quest to satisfy a customer or get a job done more efficiently. One company celebrates mistakes with "Mistake of the Month" plaques or some other humorous token. Another company offers a quarterly reward of $100 to employees who admit mistakes. Encouraging people to admit and resolve their mistakes can save thousands of dollars a year in wasted time and lost productivity. When the Leader's Role Changes Some team leaders fear that their company will have no need for them after empowerment becomes the way of organizational life. If everyone is involved in what leaders traditionally do, what role is left for the leader? One solution: Redesign the role of the team leader. This has been done in some organizations. Traditional teams are replaced by "self-directed" teams that have no permanent team leader. In this setup, the team chooses a project leader (or two or more leaders) for each project. Using self-directed teams may be too radical for many companies, but variations can be adapted to meet special purposes. Subteams can be created to handle different projects on a self-directed basis. The permanent team leader serves the important purpose of coordinating all team activities and providing training and support. How the self-directed team works is discussed in Chapter 24. In any case, the team leader's role becomes more that of facilitator, coordinator, and troubleshooter. Team leaders have more time to plan, organize, and work with their bosses on long-term projects and act as a consultant to their own team members and to other teams where their expertise can be of value. Making Empowerment Work in the Team Empowerment isn't a cure-all for all management problems. Rather, it enhances collaborative efforts to get a job accomplished by giving every member of a team the power to get things done. To do this, management must be willing to give up some of its prerogatives. Team Builder