Do you remember the rules of the old children's game, Mother May I? Players had to ask, "Mother, may I?" before taking a step, otherwise, they had to return to the starting point and lose their place in the contest.
You probably played the game when you were six or seven years old. It was fun then, but in the workplace this game is counterproductive-there are no winners.
Whether you call today's scheme of work employee empowerment, spreading of responsibility, or something else, we must count on people to make more decisions.
Nowhere is the need so great as in customer service at every level as evidenced throughout the media. Many companies are touting their great service. In one commercial, for example, a telephone service provider guarantees you that the person you talk to can and will solve any problem you have with their service. The worker can take the initiative without going to the boss to ask, "May I?"
Today, every job results in customer service in one way or another. Each of us has a direct responsibility for providing high quality service. Although it may not be possible for staff to take every step without consulting a supervisor, each of us must be given the freedom to best serve the university constituents. Otherwise, the university will lose both its best staff members and its "customers."
In his book On Q: Causing Quality in Higher Education, Daniel Seymour proclaims that good employees, like good customers often have the same reaction to situations they find frustrating and humiliating. They leave. Seymour further states that by not giving people the tools, encouragement and freedom to do their jobs, an organization becomes inundated with bureaucrats, policy manuals and underachievers.
I'm not sure where the "Mother, May I" game got its name, but I suspect that a mother's tendency to watch closely over her children had something to do with it. Wittenberg staff do not need a supervisor to watch over them closely. They need leaders who can provide the direction, resources and support for them to get the job done.
No more apron strings...allow staff to take a couple baby steps or even two giant steps if the situation demands action!