Do you empower employees at your place of work?
It’s a tough question to answer, right?
You kinda want to say yes, but on the other hand it’s also one of those questions that should ideally be answered about you, not by you.
After all, employee empowerment is about more than just team building and monetary rewards, it’s about creating a work environment that motivates employees to excel and encourage people to become the best versions of themselves. Essentially, you’re teaching folks to fish and then providing them with the tackle to do so. It’s not something that happens all by itself - you actually have to put your back into it.
Today we’re taking a look at 10 behaviours that allow employees to feel empowered at their place of work. Short on time? Here are the crib notes (read on below for more):
- Cultivate an atmosphere of trust
- Be clear about company vision
- Get down to grass roots
- Pave the way for self-improvement
- Be approachable
- Be generous with time off
- Make space to step up
- Grow towards a culture of flexibility
- Promote creativity
- Recognise the good stuff
So let's get started:
1. Cultivate an atmosphere of trust
Have you ever heard someone wax lyrical about the benefits of micromanagement? It's fairly unlikely, mainly because it's an absolute pain to have someone gazing over your shoulder the whole time and it also makes employees feel untrustworthy. When someone keeps checking up on your work, it's not exactly screaming 'you got this'. This is why effective managers empower employees by providing clear briefs and then trusting them to run with tasks and projects in their own way. If you don't feel that this is a possibility at your place of work, you may want to reconsider procedures or upskill employees.
2. Be clear about company vision
People do their best work when they know exactly what they're aiming for. Be clear about your vision at all times and take the time to get everyone on the same page where their roles are concerned. Empower employees by giving them the road map to meet your expectations. Fumbling in the dark leads to disappointment, so shine that light and let them thrive.
3. Get down to grass roots
If you want to empower employees, you’ve got to know them. Every person in your employ has a unique set of skills, strengths, challenges, quirks, hopes and dreams. If you want to be in the position to allow each individual on your team to thrive and contribute positive energy to the group, you’ve got to get back down to grass roots and get to grips with who they are as people - this isn’t something you’ll find in their personnel file.
4. Pave the way for self-improvement
Empower employees by paving the way for self-improvement. There are various ways to do so. It can take the form of continued education, peer-to-peer skills sharing, mentorship, online classes, attending conferences, etc. After all, every time an employee upskills, they become more valuable to your enterprise. However, self-improvement can also take the form of extracurricular activities that allow your employees to thrive as humans. Perhaps your admin assistant needs to leave a little early on a Wednesday to attend their Pilates workshop, or your finance stalwart is taking a parenting course and needs to come in a little later on a Friday. When possible, leave room for this type of personal growth - it will stand your business in good stead in the long run.
5. Be approachable
Bosses who empower employees often have one important thing in common - they are easy to talk to. Having an open-door policy is quite simple in theory, but if you want to enjoy the benefits in practice you have to make sure that you are approachable. Do your employees feel that they can share failures and concerns, as well as successes and innovative ideas? When you become a soundboard for your workforce, it’s a lot easier to keep your finger on the pulse and recalibrate as you go.
6. Be generous with time off
Forward-thinking companies like Hubspot and Dropbox offer their employees unlimited vacation time, choosing to empower employees to be autonomous and get their work done and still make personal decisions about time off. If you’re coming from quite a traditional place, this may seem just a tad ludicrous - surely it would wreak havoc with productivity levels? Not so! Recent survey results suggest that taking time off when you need it leads to improved productivity, lower stress levels and better mental health. That’s a great big YAY all around.
7. Make space to step up
If you want to empower employees, you should be delegating more than just grunt work. Allow your employees space to step up to the plate. It could be as simple as asking someone to lead a meeting in your stead, or as big as allowing them to spearhead a project from start to finish.
8. Grow towards a culture of flexibility
The digital age has revolutionised the way we work. If you have employees who would be more comfortable working remotely from home, or split their time between the office and a digital nomad set-up, see if you can make it work. Not every business is set up to allow for remote work, but those that are enjoy great benefits. After all, if your employees don’t have to commute to work they are far more likely to be at the workstations on time, plus your overheads will be lower. It’s a pretty sweet deal for everyone concerned.
9. Promote creativity
Empower employees by tapping into their creativity. Just because your company has done something a certain way for decades doesn’t mean your processes can’t be improved upon. Keep the floor open for innovation and promote creative thinking as a rule. Nimble organisations are those that thrive in our current economic climate.
10 Recognise the good stuff
Recognise and reward achievements. Sometimes all you need to do to empower employees is to say thank you in a constructive way.
Following these ten guidelines will allow you to empower employees in a way that promotes employee engagement and will ultimately yield exceptional productivity rates. As you can probably tell, it all boils down to creating a working environment in which every member of your team has the ability to reach their full potential and bloom into self-confidence. Ultimately, you empower employees by playing to their strengths and treating them as individuals. It’s as simple (and complex!) as that.
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