Hey Coach, 

I’m having trouble getting some people on our team to take the initiative on making decisions. Instead of just handling a problem or deciding what to do in a situation, they wait for me to get involved. I find this frustrating because I’ve got plenty of other things to do.

Dear‭ ‬Frustrated Fred‭,‬

You‭ ‬may think they lack the initiative to handle things on their own‭, ‬but I suggest taking a serious look at whether they feel‭ ‬empowered‭ ‬to handle situations without you‭. ‬Empowerment is about‭ ‬giving someone the authority or power to do something‭. ‬Do this well‭, ‬and your frustrations will disappear because three things happen‭:‬‭ ‬


Your employees don’t have to come looking for you to make a decision. Rather, they decide themselves because you’ve taught, trained, and empowered them to do so without you. 


Employees become more engaged when feel they are empowered. They also feel you have confidence in their ability, which creates engagement in itself. If you give them the power to make a decision or take an action without having to check back with you (assuming they know how to do handle the situation), then they get fully engaged. 


Your team gains experience and confidence with good decision-making. And they will share their experiences with others in the organization and helping the business grow. 

However, improperly empowering employees could cause you a higher level of frustration and potentially greater problems than you bargained for. Consider these three areas of concern.

Types of decisions needed: There will be some decisions you will want to empower your team with and others you will need to get involved in. As an example, you likely don’t want jobsite crew leaders negotiating scope changes, but you do want them to decide how to handle problems with subcontractors. Think carefully about who can make certain operational, tactical, and strategic decisions, then communicate them consistently. 

Person’s capabilities: Make sure the person(s) you’re empowering has been thoroughly trained on decision-making and managing the issues you want them to handle. For example, your jobsite crew leaders face a problem dealing with a subcontractor. The most effective way to prepare them is role playing the conversation as you’d like it to happen. 

To do this effectively, create a realistic scenario so you can observe how they would handle the conversation. Be sure they clearly understand your expectations. What can they do? What can’t they do? How do you want them to behave (e.g., be respectful, listen, don’t argue)? After the role playing, acknowledge what they did well and provide feedback on what they could have done better. Practice again. 

Outcomes expected: It’s wise to clearly explain the outcome(s) you’re looking for in specific areas (e.g., quality, work ethic, jobsite cleanliness, safety, etc.). For example, your entire team should feel empowered to stop an unsafe practice without looking for you to get involved. 


You will always face frustrations of some kind in construction. They can, however, be minimized when you effectively empower your team to make the right decisions and handle situations without you. 

About the coach:

As a leadership development expert, Randy Goruk works with construction industry leaders to improve employee engagement and business growth. Register to receive his Leadership Tip of the Week at www.LeadersEdge360.com, or contact him directly to learn how he can help you and your team: randy@LeadersEdge360.com.

Modern Contractor Solutions, February 2021
Did you enjoy this article?
Subscribe to the FREE Digital Edition of Modern Contractor Solutions magazine.