Sharing power with employees means sharing info

Do you know an information hoarder? You know the type...they only dole out information to their employees a crumb at a time. They are stingy with corporate information because they believe that managers should only tell employees what they "need to know." Unfortunately, in this age of employee involvement and decision making these managers are clinging to information for a very good reason...information is power, and so they hold on to it for dear life.

Insecure managers are worried that they won't be needed if they don't make all the decisions. They want to be indispensable and they think the best way to stay employed is to hoard all the power and decision-making. Unfortunately, what they don't realize is that the opposite is likely to happen. The more they hoard, the more discontented their employees will become and the more old fashioned and insecure they will look. As the rest of the organization is moving toward a new style of management, they will be conspicuously out- of-place.

They don't realize that their role is changing from rule enforcer and decision-maker to facilitator, educator and coach. They don't realize that employees are eager to learn and grow and make improvements in the way the work is done. But employees can't do these things unless the manager releases control of the information he or she has used to make the decisions. Perhaps you will recognize some of the characteristics of an information hoarder :

·        They complain that their employees are too inexperienced to make decisions. (Smart managers know that naive employees are the result of over-controlling supervisors. They share corporate information with their employees and encourage their employees to share information and cross-train whenever possible. These supervisors start out by letting their employees make easy decisions and work up to the more complex ones. They guide them every step of the way.)

·        They complain that their employees can't see the big picture. (Wise decision-making comes from knowing how one decision affects other areas. Good bosses guide their team by telling them information about other departments and the company. These bosses bring in people from other areas to work with their team when the outcome will affect others. These managers also guide their employees away from no-win political issues.)

·        They believe that their employees don't want the responsibility of making decisions. (Perhaps some people only want to do what they are told but from what I've seen it's a very small number. Often, the reason people don't want added responsibility is because they have been punished in the past when they made a mistake. Wise managers understand that they need to create an environment where employees work closely with management as advisors, so employees make educated decisions that are win-win.)

·        They believe that everyone will make their own decisions and chaos will result. (Enlightened managers understand that empowerment doesn't mean anarchy. External controls are replaced with internal controls, which guide decision-making. Employees who understand the corporate vision, are aligned with the beliefs and values of the culture and understand how to exceed customer expectations don't need a supervisor standing over them making decisions. In fact, they will tend to impose tougher standards on themselves than they ever had before.)

·        They don't share information with their peers. (Good managers don't have turf wars. They open up their areas to others and invite involvement so the entire organization benefits.)

·        They don't think employees would understand technical data. (Empowering managers share financial data, production statistics, customer information and anything else that their employees need to know in order to make smart decisions. If employees don't understand the information, the manager explains it to them.)

Information is one of the main things that separate employees from managers. It is the source of power in an organization. If managers are truly going to empower their employees, they must give them the information they need to do it right.

Joan Lloyd is a Milwaukee based executive coach and organizational & leadership development strategist. She is known for her ability to help leaders and their teams achieve measurable, lasting improvements. Joan Lloyd & Associates, specializes in leadership development, organizational change and teambuilding, providing: executive coaching, CEO coaching & leader team coaching, 360-degree feedback processes, retreat facilitation and presentation skill coaching and small group labs. Contact Joan Lloyd & Associates at (414) 573-1616,, or 
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