Staff Empowerment: Unleash the Power Within your Organisation

Release your inner rockstar

Release your inner rockstar

“Every employee comes equipped with a mind; at absolutely no extra cost” (3M Slogan)

Alhos de Agua (‘Eyes of the Water’), is a small town near Albufeira in the Algarve. After a mainly liquid dinner, we were feeling zero pain. I was strolling along with my buddy Brian Kennedy (no, not that Brian Kennedy).  With 2 guitars and a high level of confidence, we were hoping to play an informal gig. All those hours of practicing the minor pentatonic scale were set to come good. An adoring Portuguese public would soon experience the best-thing-since-Bressie.

Bar Spotting: Drawn like salmon to spawning ground, we found a suitable bar. It was lively but had no music or TV. And, it had a lot of passing traffic. Perfect. At midnight, the punters in place were already well tanked. We explained to the manager that we wanted to play a couple of songs, a one night only opportunity. The manager thought it was a great idea but she would have to “call the owner” who’d gone home earlier. The answer, when it came, had the merit of being both short and quick. No!

Now, sometimes staff use the ‘call the owner’ ruse to hide behind a difficult decision, “I’d allow it, but it’s not my call” and so on. But, sometimes, staff are actively disempowered and don’t have the discretion to make decisions on simple day-to-day issues. In organization development parlance, the technical term for this is as follows: It’s nuts. Years ago I attended a school play where my daughter Amie was in the chorus line. All the kids in her group sang: “We’re in the chorus we stand in a row. We all have talent in case you don’t know”. Everyone in your organization is talented. Even the ones in the back office, on reception, and the cleaners who start work at 5:30 am and you seldom see. It’s your job to release their potential energy.

Staff Empowerment: Empowered staff are allowed to make judgment calls. Not open season – you obviously have to set parameters. You probably wouldn’t relish an airline pilot telling Knock Knock jokes (at 35,000 feet or lying on a hospital trolley, professionalism trumps personality every time). So empowerment has limits – it’s certainly not anything goes. But all great leaders know if staff make a call in good faith and it subsequently rebounds, you support them. Why? Because there is great talent scattered throughout your organization – and the senior team don’t have a monopoly on good ideas. An Italian proverb captures this: ‘After the game, the King and the pawn go into the same box’.

Cultural Support: In some countries e.g. Holland and Ireland, empowerment as a concept fits very easily with the national culture. In other countries e.g. China, the historical cultures are not pre-programmed in a way that junior people are expected and encouraged to make decisions. So, I think that we can make a solid argument that the Irish are ‘culturally programmed’ to operate in an empowered way. The question then is simple: If you were on trial for ‘empowering staff’ would there be enough evidence to convict you? If you are not actively working on this you are driving those BMW’s in 2nd gear!

Meanwhile the (potential) adoring Portuguese fans will have to wait for another musical opportunity. A terrible sadness that could have been so easily been averted… Breaking News: They eventually found a way around this. One Direction recently played a gig in Oporto. There you go. Sorted!


PS: Thanks for all the notes about Louie – after last weeks blog. There are a lot of dog lovers out there. In relation to how would Linda respond if anything happend to me, Dermot Freeman offered the following:

“Since I had the pleasant experience of meeting Louie during my visit , I know what a character he was and what a space is left empty by his death. I currently have two ‘best friends’ but I have lost others along the way so I have complete empathy with your feelings. In terms of Linda, I know in the past it was expected that women would wear black for a year and not go outside other than to mass (If Italian, it was 10 years and you didn’t wash yourself during the entire period while consuming 4 cloves of garlic every day – guaranteed that they would spend the entire time on their own at home). Nowadays, apparently they should wait until after the Months Mind but if they are using an online dating service, their profile would want to be up two weeks before so that they can review the hits”.

Thanks for that Dermot. I’ve passed on this critical information to Linda.

PPS Lighter Note: How to Improve Your Self Esteem

Do you have feelings of inadequacy?

Do you suffer from shyness?

Do you sometimes wish you were more assertive?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, ask your doctor or pharmacist about Cabernet Sauvignon.

Cabernet Sauvignon is the safe, natural way to feel better and more confident about yourself and your actions. It can help ease you out of your shyness and let you tell the world that you’re ready and willing to do just about anything.

You will notice the benefits of Cabernet Sauvignon almost immediately and, with a regime of regular doses, you can overcome obstacles that prevent you from living the life you want to live. Shyness and awkwardness will be a thing of the past and you will discover many talents you never knew you had. Stop hiding and start living.

Contra Indicators: Cabernet Sauvignon may not be right for everyone. Women who are pregnant or nursing should not use it. However, women who wouldn’t mind nursing or becoming pregnant are encouraged to try it. Side effects may include: dizziness, nausea, vomiting, incarceration, loss of motor control, loss of clothing, loss of money, loss of virginity, delusions of grandeur, table dancing, headache, dehydration, dry mouth, a desire to sing Karaoke and play Strip Poker/Naked Twister.


* The consumption of Cabernet Sauvignon may make you think you are whispering when you are not.

* The consumption of Cabernet Sauvignon may cause you to tell your friends over and over again that you love them!

* The consumption of Cabernet Sauvignon may cause you to think you can sing.

* The consumption of Cabernet Sauvignon may create the illusion that you are tougher, smarter, faster and better looking than most people.

This message is brought to you by people who are already enjoying the daily use of Cabernet Sauvignon.

PPS: Nowt Strange as Folk: “We’ve all been told to reapply for our jobs. Then we come into work and see this”. A medical secretary at Hull and East Yorkshire Hospitals after seeing a 3 minute ‘stress-busting’ video featuring the CEO Phil Morley dressed as Superman and dancing to Amarillo in Lycra tights. Don’t try this at home!

Check our website or call 087 2439019 for an informal discussion about executive or organization development.



About Tandem Consulting

Paul Mooney holds a Ph.D. and a Post-Graduate Diploma in Industrial Sociology from Trinity College, along with a National Diploma in Industrial Relations (NCI). He has a post-Graduate Diploma and a Masters in Coaching from UCD. Paul, a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, is widely recognised as an expert on organisation and individual change. He began his working life as a butcher in Dublin before moving into production management. He subsequently held a number of human resource positions in Ireland and Asia - with General Electric and Sterling Drug. Between 2007 and 2010, Paul held the position of President, National College of Ireland. Paul is currently Managing Partner of Tandem Consulting, a team of senior OD and change specialists. He has run consulting assignments in 20+ countries and is the author of 12 books. Areas of expertise include: • Organisational Development/Change & conflict resolution • Leadership Development/Executive Coaching • Human Resource Management/employee engagement
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