As they prove them can handle riskier decisions, increase their authority. Ramp it up individually for each worker. You may well have three crew leaders who all have vastly differing levels of independence. Some will pick up the new duties and decision making rapidly, others may never pick it up.
Step 3: Force them to bring two solutions to the table.
You have to teach your people how to make sound decisions. The easiest and quickest way to do that is to FORCE them to think by demanding they bring you two possible solutions for every problem. Require them to recommend one of the solutions.
At first, you will struggle not signaling the solution until after they have finished explaining their decision.
Your objective is to teach them how you want them to think things through. When you signal your preference prematurely, you interfere with their learning process.
This one small change in your approach will have profound effect on your team's decision making skills. Instead of picking up the phone to hear your direction, they will start to own the problem and solution.
Step 4: When something goes wrong, have them walk you through their thought process.
As soon as possible, ask your worker tell you what they thought about, what pros and cons they thought of, what risk-to-reward trade-offs they considered. Look for the issue they overlooked.
Verify their priorities were correct; their assumptions were correct; they paid adequate attention to quality, safety, and productivity. Ask them what they would do differently next time.
After you have heard their thoughts, tell them how you would have thought through the decision. Point out issues they overlooked. Clarify their priorities if they don't match with yours.
Step 5: Celebrate successes (i.e. sound decisions)
Nothing promotes repeat behavior better than positive reinforcement. Pat them on the back. Tell them how proud you are of their initiative, creative problem solving, or whatever they did that was right.
Celebrate the parts of the decision they did right, even if they messed up on other parts and ended up making a poor decision.
Step 6: Keep giving them rope until they hang themselves.
Once your worker has mastered the super simple tasks, step it up a bit. Give him a little more authority.
Keep doing that as he demonstrates the ability to think like you want him to think. Eventually one of two things will happen. Either he will hit his limitation of decision making ability or he will become your decision making twin.
Step 7: Teach your team how to delegate.
Once you've got your immediate subordinates handling their own business, teach them how to delegate.
It's common for project managers, foremen, and superintendents to be border-line control freaks. That's plays into your hands when you're trying to delegate. It plays against you when you want them to take on broader duties and handle more responsibility by delegating down mundane planning and organizing tasks.
Teach your leaders with the same process you used to delegate away your detailed tasks. The more they delegate, the greater your team's ability to excel, be productive, and wow your customers.
Goose or Buffalo?
Call it what you will - delegation, empowerment, getting people to take the initiative - it all produces the same outcome. You end up with a team that makes good, timely decisions without your involvement.
The truth is: you must learn how to delegate and empower if you wish to have any freedom in your life. Otherwise, you will be tied to your phone 24/7 answering stupid little questions that drive you nuts. Not only that, they will be burning clock waiting for you to tell them their next step.
Ron Roberts, The Contractor's Business Coach, teaches contractors how to turn their business into a profit spewing machine. To receive Ron's FREE Contractor Best Practices Newsletter visit www.FilthyRichContractor.com.