The Empowerment Game
Yes, the game is already being played, but the owner of the agency is normally the pawn rather than the controlling influence. My recommendation is to reverse the direction of the game and force the employees to respond to you.
Buy a box of poker chips. Distribute twenty chips to each employee. Conduct a meeting with all of your employees during which you propose the following scenario:
During the next two months we are going to conduct an experiment. The experiment is one in creative decision making. Each time that an employee requires assistance from the owner or any manager to solve a problem or make a decision he or she must bring a poker chip with them. The poker chip is in payment for delegating the decision to another layer of management or the agency owner UNLESS the employee brings a range of options with them during the discussion and permits the owner to assist the employee in selecting one of the options that the employee has initiated. Any mail or telephone calls transferred to a manager or an owner for handling from an employee automatically results in the loss of a chip. At the end of the sixty day period, anyone with between five and ten chips remaining earns a free lunch on the boss anyone with ten to fifteen chips remaining is to be congratulated on their decision making abilities and should receive a dinner on the boss. Those employees who have more than fifteen chips remaining after sixty days should receive both congratulations and an extra day off those are your superstars.
Obviously, their are some caveats to this program. This program is made for your employees with customer contact and decision making activities. It should not be a punitive program your trying to give as much away to as many of your employees as possible because if they learn how to make decisions independently (or at least bring you alternatives when having a problem) they become more valuable to you.
Using a game like this to enhance empowerment in your agency is just one of many ways to subtly enhance the skills and value of your employees, leveraging them to the best affect for you and for your agency. Try this program out and let us know your results. If you have problems during the conduct of the program just call us and we'll help you out.