The Danger of Empowered Employees
by Kate Nasser |
Nimble companies win business. Lumbering, slow companies lose. Agile companies empower employees to make quick decisions that meet customers’ high expectations and changing business conditions.
What happens when an empowered employee resists change and stops the new revenue stream?
The Story Behind This Question of Empowered Employees
A company actively involved in promoting National Customer Service Week approached me to be an advertising sponsor. They had decided for the first time ever to sell advertising sponsorships. They sent information explaining levels of sponsorship, cost, and what each level of sponsorship gave me. Because of my strong commitment to great customer service and brand of delivering customer service workshops I was very interested. Initial discussions went well. We agreed on the size of the online logo ad pretty easily.
He asked me to send a short paragraph about myself for their first email bulletin. After receiving my text, he replied that the paragraph looked great and they would run it as is.
Things suddenly changed when he sent a proof of the bulletin. I was shocked to see they used only one line from my write-up. To make matters worse, they changed my verbiage into bland, boring words.
His question to me was “WOW, doesn’t it look great?” I called him and asked what happened? He said, “Don’t worry we want you to be happy. I’ll get back to you.” Before he hung up, I said if we are limited on the number of words, I will be happy to rewrite it. However, the words must reflect my brand.
He emailed me a new version that was slightly longer. Sadly, the words were modified again. It was after hours so I waited until the morning to call him. I left this voice message. “Since I don’t understand what is going on, can’t get any answers, and had no trust that the other advertising activities would be handled appropriately, I am going to pass on the opportunity to be a Gold Sponsor. I wish you continued success.”
He sent me an email saying the source of yesterday’s struggle was the editor of the email bulletin who insisted the bulletin have the same look and feel as it had for the last 10 years. He offered me a discount on the membership and said they would print my paragraph the way I wanted it.
What he didn’t address was the loss of trust. When I asked him if he could assure me that my other sponsorship ads for this event, my time, and my brand would not be affected by their internal struggles, he replied “Evidently you have a bad taste in your mouth about this and it’s best we terminate this relationship!”
The editor of the bulletin – one empowered employee in this whole process – stopped the revenue stream in its tracks.
If you were the leader of that organization or team, what would you say to the empowered employee (the editor) as the internal disagreement emerged? Would you focus on total empowerment and talk it out for as long as it took to hear the employees concerns even if it meant missing deadlines and losing revenue? Or would you remind everyone of the vision of this new undertaking and empower employees on how to make that new vision come true?
I look forward to your comments, learning, and sharing.
(Special thanks to Dan Rockwell, The Leadership Freak for insightful editing of this post before publication.)
Kate Nasser, The People-Skills Coach, delivers training for the ultimate customer experience, creating dynamic dynamic agile teams, and coaching on leading change. She teaches how to bridge the gaps of diversity, generations, personality type, culture, and geography for success in this fast paced business world. See footage of her in action at KateNasser.com