We created common frameworks of knowledge that allow us to communicate ideas quickly but sometimes we forget that the person in front of us may not have the same understanding or knowledge as we do. This is when we try to help them. This is when we think they need to know what 1+1 gives. This is when we assume that we know better when in fact we just know our way and not theirs. How many conflicts emerged when someone or a department wanted to help others and gave them a ready to use solution and then the solution was regarded with disdain and rejected? Doesn't it sounds familiar to you?
Well, then you faced a situation where someone was trying to assist you. You may welcome assistance because your need is punctual. In this case, it may make no sense to learn a new skill. I would encourage you to learn new skills when the issues happens more often.
There are 6 main differences between empowering people and assisting them. Here they are:
- Understand the person/group background
- Assess competences
- 2 ways communication
- Suggest possible ways to solve the issue
- Teach appropriate tools and knowledge
- Guide and give hints
- Come as the savior
- Not pay attention to people background
- Underestimate people capacity to learn
- 1 way communication
- Use specialized language that only the helper understands
- Giving directives without explaining their consequences
I am not saying it is easy to change from assisting people to empowering them. I am saying it is a must if we want to work in companies where solutions are found, people are creative, issues are opportunities and learning is a common thing. It is also more rewarding to see people go beyond their boundaries and find solutions to issues they know very well.
Who is the most competent to solve an issue than the one who is having it?
People do not need your assistance they need to be consider capable to solve their own issue.
Here is how you could go from Assisting your employee to Empowering them.
- Check background by asking questions.
- Assess competencies and knowledge
- Develop a 2 ways communication with feedback from both sides
- Define together learning necessities & ways to solve issues
- Teach skills and knowledge
- Guide employee in the solving process