Project manager and guest blogger Jennifer Draper, shares her experience of feeling empowered, by being given freedom with a work project.
“Empowerment can be fostered in any employee, of any role or rank, by giving employees small amounts of personal freedom or like Disney – a way in which they can express themselves in their work.”
This point was sparked from a conversation on LinkedIn about how Disney encourages creativity in its team – even adding some of their best one-liners into the official ride scripts. Lazlo Bock (CEO at Humu) wrote, “As a result, employees felt more like owners of the adventure.”
Personal freedom in work can be seen by some as quite daunting and challenging, though this may be down to a lack of freedom in previous roles.
Small amounts of personal freedom within specific tasks can enable a more creative and personal approach. Ensuring the outcome has been made clear to the individual is a key factor, coupled with ensuring that they have the relevant skills, knowledge and mind-set to take on the challenge.
These opportunities of additional freedom within a team or individually can be utilised to push boundaries and personal achievement.
One of the most memorable times I’ve had freedom in a piece of work was a few years ago. I was tasked with creating slide shows for screens on each floor of the head office. Without a brief to use, or any specific guidelines apart from ‘engaging and informative’, I looked to my creative side. I did some research on the company and its past and found some fantastic images taken through the years. The best part of this was finding the first photos taken of well-known team members who had been there for 30-40 years.
I also managed to find photos of how all the buildings used to look and the technology we used. I created a timeline of how the business had changed over the years and looked at previous engagement survey results to see what people wanted more information on. This was then incorporated into a simple and clear format showing our key KPIs and how we were doing in each business function week on week.
The screens were a huge hit, and I felt even more engaged than I did previously. Empowered? Yes! Being given something I could run with was a huge moment. I felt trusted and valued. Initially I was scared and wanted to keep checking that what I was doing was OK, but in actual fact I should have had more confidence in myself and what I was doing.
So, going back to Disney’s quote, I agree: empowerment is achievable, and giving employees a little freedom can help with that. Agreeing clarity of outcome is an essential component and ensuring they have the skills, knowledge and mind-set to take the challenge on. Some may need a little support initially as well as some reassurance that their ideas are on the right track, but once they overcome this and reach the end goal not only will they feel they have added their own unique value, on top of that is the significant engagement you get as a result.