Refolding vs Motivating and Empowering

In Origami, especially the more complicated models, there will be several series of folding steps that end up with unfolding and then refolding.  This is done mainly to set the paper with the needed creased lines and move the folding to another stage.  For instance, a square piece of paper when folded in half horizontally and then vertically, divides the paper into four small squares when the paper is unfolded.  When each corner of the paper is moved (refolded) to join at the center of the paper, it forms four triangles.  When the paper is again unfolded, we see eight triangles and a new big square within the square paper.  The original blank piece of paper now has patterns on it.  Iterations of folding, unfolding and refolding will transform the paper into an object depending on what the origami artist has in mind to create.  The paper will be crumpled and even tear if multiple iterations are done and eventually it cannot be used.  Hence there must be considerations taken by the origami artist as he folds his paper in stages to arrive at his eventual design.  The manager, likewise, needs to do the same…. lest his staff gets ‘crumpled’ and “tear”.

All managers have an important role of checking on the well being of their staff regardless how capable their staff perform.  A staff may be very self-motivated and seem fine at work.  That does not relieve the manager from spending time to talk to his staff.  All of us have needs that are unique and impact us differently at different stage of our life.  Each of us will prioritize our needs differently and affect our motivation when it is not aligned to our expectations.  It is therefore important for the manager to relate with his staff regularly and with more openness to determine these misalignments.  The manager needs to be an active listener (will share more about what this is in subsequent post).  There must be follow up action done and review to see if alignment gets restored.  Employees will then be more forthcoming to build a good working relationship with their managers.

Many think of empowerment simply as delegating to staff the decision-making rights.  The manager needs to do more than just that.  He needs to consider whether the staff has the right competence and the willingness.  Some may be competent but is not willing to make the decision and hence will need more coaching.  For those who may be willing but not competent to do so, the manager needs to be more instructional.  When a manager empowers an employee, what he is doing is to draw out from within that employee, his hidden value-add.  Analogous to the piece of paper that went through several folds and after unfolding, the manager now works with his employee on the refolding, helping his staff see live out his hidden value-add.  The wonderful origami models would have remained as a single piece of paper if not for the origami artist’s vision of what that paper can be turned into.  How satisfied that artist must have been when he finally derived at the model he envisioned.

As a manager, your passion for your staff to see beyond what he can do is empowerment.  In my website, I have added a few expert’s website links that you can refer and sharpen your skill as a manager (and a leader).  Hope this has been useful to you.

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