What does your dream team look like? Are they worker bees who do precisely what you say (no more and no less)? Or are they a team of knowledgeable professionals who drive initiatives and utilize their skills to problem solve, innovate, and help the you achieve a sustainable growth? Hopefully it’s the latter.
True and sustainable growth takes a capable team of empowered employees. Empowering employees is a culture. It takes an increase in trust, clear communication, and strategic delegation.
Giving your team members permission to take action and make decisions within your organization can create trust and understanding to ensure these actions are in line with your organizational goals.
Here are some tips to empower employees:
Delegating strengthens and empowers your team. Delegate with the intent to grow and develop the capabilities and responsibilities of your employees. Don't just delegate the drudge work. You need to make work enjoyable, so be sure to delegate some of the fun stuff and assignments that you know a person is interested in. Some of the fun, interesting work you can delegate includes important meetings, committee memberships that influence product development and decision making, and the projects that people and customers notice.
2. Set clear expectations and challenge them
Setting clear expectations avoids employees becoming bored or stagnant with their duties; defines the boundaries; and gives permission to make decisions while ensuring the decisions are in line with your goals. This helps to push them past their comfort zone and realize their potential. The goal is to set the bar high, but not too high—the goals should be attainable, yet still challenging to reach. When employees receive clear expectations from their manager, they relax. This allows them to focus their energy on accomplishing results, not on worrying and second-guessing.
3. Give employees autonomy over assignments
Relinquish control, refrain from micromanaging, and accept that your way may not be the only (or best) way to complete a project. Allow employees to identify some of their own job-specific goals. Trust the intentions of your employees to do the right thing, make the right decisions, and make choices that (while maybe not exactly what you would decide) still work.
4. Provide necessary resources
Offer tools, resources, and to be a sounding board for ideas. Make certain that you have given people all of the information they need to make thoughtful decisions. If that's not doable, make sure that those working under you have access to the information they need to do their job most productively.
5. Give constructive feedback
Be thoughtful and specific about the feedback you provide. Be specific about the actions or attitudes you’d like to see repeated and the impact it had on others. Provide frequent feedback so that employees know how they are doing, both in terms of meeting expectations and where they need improvement. Ideally, there should be a mix of feedback that's reward and recognition as well as improvement coaching, with an emphasis on recognition.
6. Accept ideas and input
Include your employees in decision-making and goal-setting. If they can’t 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, it can also open up your organization to great new ideas.
7. Communicate the vision of the organization
Employees want to feel valued by contributing to building something as opposed to just another cog in the wheel. By clearly communicating the vision of the organization 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. Help them feel that they are part of something bigger than themselves and their individual job.
8. Recognize employees for hard work
While employees should be intrinsically motivated to do a good job, there still needs to be an aspect of humanity involved in the workplace. In short, workers need frequent feedback and praise. They want to know their efforts are appreciated and that their hard work doesn’t go unnoticed. SAY THANK YOU! Showing appreciation for work well done makes it more likely that the employee will repeat the behavior and encourage innovation, action, and increase problem solving skills.
9. Define opportunities for upward mobility
No employee wants to be stuck in a dead-end job. If your staff feels there is no opportunity to advance in your organization, they’ll seek opportunities to do so elsewhere. Be transparent and communicative about how staff members can earn more money, take on a bigger role, or advance in leadership. In many cases, there may not be a clear trajectory for an employee within a company. In this case, uncover employees’ strengths, desires, and interests to see how they can take a larger role within the organization. When they know there’s room for growth, they’re empowered to get to that next level.
10. Encourage open communication
Make sure your staff members know that they can talk to you or other managers when they have questions, ideas or concerns. It’s important that your staff members feel their input matters instead of a dividing line between management and lower-level employees.
To encourage open communication, give employees the opportunity to share feedback on big, company-wide projects. Don’t forget to include every team whenever possible and use monthly meetings to remind employees about where they fit within the greater scheme of things. When they see how their work is having an impact, they’re empowered to do more.
11. Promote work-life balance
Employees will get burnt out if they don’t have a work-life balance. Happy employees are both career-oriented and dedicated to their life outside of the office. When you let them have time for the things that are important to them, they’ll have more focus and energy during the time they spend at work. When you’re sympathetic to their needs and circumstances, they’ll be more willing to work hard. You show appreciation to employees and in turn, empower them to do the same.
Empowering your employees will create improvements across the entire company including retention—it's a win-win for everyone!
Contact RothmeyerRothmeyer.com to learn how we can help you with empowering your employees to increase your organizational culture and sustain growth.