How to Make Subordinates Colleagues


You must give power in order to empower? 

Empowerment is giving qualified people  power and permission to act. Empowerment fails when leaders talk empowerment but hang on to permission or make it difficult to act.

Empowered people become colleagues not employees.

Transform your organization by making subordinates colleagues.

  1. Eliminate exclusive trappings of power. Reserve parking spaces based on achievement not position, for example.
  2. Destroy barriers by welcoming and respecting input from anyone. Never act dismissively.
  3. Mix with the “riff raff,” during meals and social activities. (Sarcasm intended)
  4. Honor people who actually do things rather than talk about doing things.
  5. Step back so others can step in.

Getting real:

In an “organization of colleagues” responsibility, accountability, and evaluation goes both ways.

The five suggestions I listed above are helpful but reflect safe top down structures. They aren’t enough. If you’re serious about empowering people, empower subordinates to give performance reviews to their bosses. If you are really serious, publish the results on your organizations intranet.

Colleagues hold each other responsible.


We can’t have subordinates evaluating bosses because:

  1. Subordinates aren’t qualified to give performance reviews. They don’t understand the Halo Effect, for example.
  2. Employees will use performance reviews to get back at superiors.
  3. Underlings won’t tell the truth, they’ll inflate reviews in order to appease bosses.

The reasons you resist bottom-up evaluations is your justification for hanging on to power and explains why people don’t feel empowered.

Good and bad news:

“Organizations of colleagues” are on the way in. Younger generations honor ideas from all quarters and disregard established structures. Thank the Internet and Social Media. Opportunities for empowered organizations are greater than ever.


What attitudes and behaviors become important if subordinates give performance review to bosses?


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