Empowering employees means giving your team members permission to take action and make decisions within your organisation. It also means there is trust and understanding in place to ensure these actions are in line with company goals.
Empowering employees is important for growing a sustainable business. While many companies may grow ground-up from the hard work and dedication of one or two entrepreneurs, true growth is the product of multiple people working together. “Multiplying” yourself (as opposed to a strict leader-follower mindset) multiplies your organisation’s strength and capabilities.
To empower employees, consider the following 8 steps:
Delegate to develop
Delegating to take drudge work off your plate is often short-sighted and misses an opportunity to strengthen and empower your team. Instead, delegate with the intent to grow and develop the capabilities and responsibilities of your employees.
Set clear expectations
Define the boundaries within which your employee is free to act. By setting clear expectations (but not micromanaging them), you are giving your employees permission to take make decisions while ensuring the decisions are in line with company goals.
Give employees autonomy over assignments
It is OK if an employee does not get from point A to point B using the same means you would use. When you delegate, accept that this may mean your employee may complete the task differently than you would. Relinquish control, refrain from micromanaging, and accept that your way may not be the only (or best) way to complete a project.
Provide necessary resources
Many leaders complain that when they first start implementing employee empowerment practices in their organisations, they still get employees coming to their offices and expecting their problems to be magically resolved for them. Instead, offer tools, resources, and be a sounding board for ideas.
Give constructive feedback
When debriefing on a project, be thoughtful and specific about the feedback you provide. Telling someone they did a “good job” does not give them any direction for what to continue doing in the future. Be specific about the actions or attitudes you would like to see repeated and the impact it had on others.
Accept ideas and input
When possible, include your employees in decision-making and goal setting. If they cannot be involved in these preliminary processes, be open to hearing their ideas and input. Not only can being receptive to new ideas help empower your employees, but it can also open up your organisation to great new ideas.
Communicate the vision of the organisation
It is becoming more and more important for employees to feel like they are contributing to building something as opposed to just another cog in the wheel. By clearly communicating the vision of the organisation and how a team and its individuals contribute to that vision, you are empowering your employees with the knowledge that their contribution is making a difference.
Recognise employees for hard work
Showing appreciation for work well done makes it more likely that a person will do it again (and do it even better). It will also encourage them to continue to be innovative, take action, and solve problems. Do not be stingy with your thank yous.
Why should you empower employees? Think of your dream team. Is it a bunch of workhorses who do precisely what you say (no more and no less)? Or is it a team of knowledgeable professionals who take initiative and use their skills to problem solve, innovate, and help the company achieve a common goal?
We are guessing it is the latter. While your company can likely achieve a certain amount of growth under your direct management, true and sustainable company growth takes a capable team of empowered employees.
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