Sure, employee empowerment is a buzz word, but it’s the thing your employees crave most.
Empowerment doesn’t just benefit the employee; it benefits the entire business. Empowered employees are more effective, productive and have greater job satisfaction than those who feel disempowered. They put in extra effort, they feel free to innovate to achieve the best results and they show greater company loyalty, meaning higher employee retention levels. The truth is, stronger employees mean a stronger business.
Why it Pays to Have Empowered Employees
In a study entitled, ‘The Impact of Empowered Employees on Corporate Value’, Darol J. Stanley, Doctor of Business Administration from Pepperdine University, examines the effectiveness of this approach. Comparing the practices and earnings of one hundred leading American corporations, the study reports that companies that prioritize creating an environment of employee empowerment have the best financial results. Empowering workers to learn and grown at a faster rate than competitors gives a company a truly sustainable advantage.
This philosophy of employee empowerment is clearly something you want to encourage as part of your company culture. But it’s not just another buzzword for you to pay lip service to – it requires a lasting commitment. It should apply to all levels of management and supervisors to create the effect of one big team of empowered individuals working towards a common goal.
Below find ten actionable ways to achieve some measure of improved employee empowerment
1. Set Clear Goals, Which Allow Flexibility
Give employees clearly defined goals and the flexibility to decide how to achieve them. More freedom can lead to innovative solutions, as well as increasing employee motivation and job satisfaction. During the recruitment process, make it clear to candidates that this is an integral part of your company culture and you’ll attract high caliber people.
2. Give Them Access to Any Information They Need
Don’t conceal relevant information or be vague, which can leave employees worrying, second-guessing and feeling disempowered. If you show your employees trust, they will be able to tackle their work from a position of strength and confidence. Be transparent with information. Share details about financial performance, key performance indicators and daily decisions that are being made. Be open and honest and allow time for their feedback.
3. Don’t Interfere Too Much – Trust & Assume Positive intent the employee will deliver
Avoid micromanaging, which can make workers feel stifled and demoralized. Instead, demonstrate that you trust your employees to make work-related decisions and do their jobs effectively. Empowered employees have the autonomy to think and take action independently.
4. Establish a Spirit of Open Communication Ask for feedback
Listen to your employees and ask them questions. Let them know that their contribution and their opinion matters. Share your company goals and your leadership vision with the whole company.
5. Adopt a Participatory Management Style
Make your employees a key part of the process of devising goals and strategy plans. This helps employees feel invested in the company and gives them something to get excited about. They are empowered to take ownership of the goals as they helped choose them. If it’s inappropriate to make them a part of the goal planning for the whole company, then get them involved at a department level. Continue this theme of involvement and collaboration by regularly updating them on how the company is performing in relation to the goals they helped set. Seek their feedback and input to show that their opinion is valued.
6. Change The Way You Handle Employee Questions
When an employee asks you what to do about a particular matter, ask them how they would solve the problem. Allow them space to demonstrate their knowledge, take initiative and grow. Let them know that you trust their judgment. This will encourage them to take initiative and solve problems for themselves in the future.
7. Manage By Results, Not Hours
This approach encourages employees to be efficient and productive. The focus is on the end result rather than being too prescriptive in how that result should be achieved. It comes back to the theme of autonomy, which is crucial to make employees feel empowered. Hire adults and trust they will deliver like adults.
8. Show That You Value Your Employees – Recognize – Give Feedback
Employee empowerment means showing your workers that you appreciate what they have to offer. This applies to every interaction you have with them. Pay close attention to the body language, vocal tone and words you use. It is also important to organize reward and recognition schemes for individual achievements or particularly hardworking members of staff. If you haven’t asked your team what the best recognition they’ve ever received was you better go ask now.
9. Implement Individualized Personal Development Plans & keep them alive
It’s common to have IDP’s but most leaders make it a 1-2x a year thing. This should be discussed monthly and both the employee/manager should be active participants. Empowered employees have a sense of being in control of their own destinies. They feel a sense of ownership and direction over their own careers. Personal Development Plans encourage employees to see their own future within your company, rather than elsewhere, improving employee retention as well as their sense of job satisfaction and drive.
10. Challenge them
A Players want to be challenged. Many people get ‘bored’ in their roles. A Players want to be challenged to think bigger, take on more responsibility. Challenging them includes providing constructive feedback that will help them grow. Now, of course, you need to do #8 as well.