Early on in my retail career, managing a “big box” home improvement center with over 100 employees, I quickly learned the importance of empowering your people to make decisions.

In retail or any other fast paced environment, we are faced with seemingly endless rapid fire decisions that need to be made, many resulting from an unplanned or reactionary scenario.

As my team, one after another would come to me with an issue, I had two options…give them the answer I felt was most appropriate or make them think for themselves.

In order for me to focus on what was most important in my role as General Manager, I would have to surround myself with troops who could think, had good common sense, and were not afraid to make a decision.

When approached for help, I would ask the employee “what do you think we should do?”

If they didn’t have an immediate solution in mind, I would have them come back to me when they did.  Once they returned, unless their idea was illegal, unethical or completely off-base, I would suggest they go ahead and do it.  I frequently closed our discussion with this statement:

“95 % of the time, we’ll make the right decision;  the other 5 % we’ll learn from it!”

In short order, I found myself with an empowered team who could make things happen and did not require non-stop direction from their leader.

Patton Empowerment

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