The 5 Biggest Mistakes Businesses Are Making Today: Not Giving Workers Autonomy

Editor’s Note: Humetrics CEO Mel Kleiman has been helping employers recruit, select, and retain front-line employees & managers for over 30 years. He knows what works — and what doesn’t. This is the last of “The 5 Biggest Mistakes Businesses Are Making Today.”

By Mel Kleiman

Mistake #5: Not doing everything to make sure you have the best coaches and players and giving them the autonomy to do the right thing.

Not everyone can be a great leader, but most of us can be great coaches. A great coach knows how to pick the best players, find out what motivates them, give them the training and practice they need, and empower them to succeed.

I won’t rehash the Southwest Airlines “employees first” success story for you, but, just in case you missed it, the online, retail store version of the same success story is Zappos.

I’d heard a lot about how they empower their people to deliver legendary customer service and I’d talked about them so much that my administrative assistant decided to give them a try to find slippers wide enough for her 83-year-old mother. She found three pair of wides and ordered one of each, hoping for the best, but, alas, none fit.

When she called to take advantage of the free shipping on returns, not only was the process easy and fast, but the customer service rep consulted with a coworker and suggested that she look at what was available in men’s slippers. Not only did they find a choice in men’s of several pair that fit, but Leslie said, “We never would have thought of looking at men’s slippers in a million years.”

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When great coaches empower great players, everyone wins – especially the customers.

In sum, to wrap up this series, lots of businesses didn’t survive the economic upheaval of the 1930s, but, those that did:

  1. Didn’t diminish the customer or employee experience.
  2. Found creative ways not to do more with less, but to make sure they were doing the right things in the best ways possible.
  3. Didn’t pull in their horns and wait it out, but kept devoting themselves to what they did best and innovating.
  4. Kept their focus on the customer and their employees.
  5. Kept building the best teams.

They were the ones who survived and then thrived when the turnaround came.

This was originally published on Mel Kleiman’s Humetrics blog.

Mel Kleiman, CSP, is an internationally-known authority on recruiting, selecting, and hiring hourly employees. He has been the president of Humetrics since 1976 and has over 30 years of practical experience, research, consulting and professional speaking work to his credit. Contact him at


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