14 Sep 5 Ways to Empower Your Employees
Wouldn’t it be nice to feel like you don’t need to have all the answers? If your employees are empowered, you don’t need to!
“It doesn’t make sense to hire smart people and then tell them what to do. We hire smart people so they can tell us what to do.” – Steve Jobs
Employee empowerment not only builds trust, a key pillar to any strong organizational foundation, but it also saves time and increases your bottom line. In short, your employees are what will direct your business results, and empowerment will ensure it’s in a positive direction.
So what does employee empowerment actually look like, how do you generate it, and what are signs it may be missing?
Signs Your Employees May Not Feel Empowered
One sign is an employee victim mentality. This may show up as not making decisions or waiting for someone else (namely you, the leader) to make the calls. More often than not, it’s employees who feel they are not in control or empowered to change the environment they are in. Many times it may also look like distrust.
The second sign is employees who constantly ask questions and seek permission and approval from you. In this scenario, you most likely feel like the gatekeeper to answers, approvals, and general task management.
Both scenarios add up to a lot of extra, unnecessary time spent from you making the decisions they are capable of making and answering the questions they have the answers to.
5 Ways to Empower Your Employees
#1: Begin with Intentions
Leading with intentions eliminates assumptions and clearly identifies the path forward for yourself and your employee. Be intentional in what empowerment looks like for them specifically (because it’s different for everyone), and let them share their thoughts.
Communicating these specifics will set the expectations and create understanding to move forward confidently in their role and avoid becoming a “victim” or needing constant permission.
#2: Understand Their Experience Level
You can’t expect someone new to the job or industry to know everything. Understanding their current level of experience and comfort level will help you determine the level of empowerment that will support them (and you) instead of overwhelming them.
Not everyone will be at the same place at the same time, but everyone does have the capability to feel empowered in their current role.
#3: Understand Their Work Style
We don’t all work the same. Understanding each team member’s work style supports their empowerment by allowing them to thrive in their most comfortable way. Some may want more independence to try new things on their own, while others may feel better supported and empowered working with a team and collaborating.
Knowing and understanding their work style, and supporting it, will encourage empowerment.
#4: Having 1:1 Conversations
Encouraging and embracing empowerment is not an overnight change. It’s a journey in everyday actions and reactions that support your stated intentions.
Tactical talk is not always productive engagement. Employees seek fulfillment and build trust through engagement. When you focus on consistent one-on-one time with your team or employees, everyone can fulfill their needs and give direction and feedback. This allows for everyone to take on more of what they want and save a lot of time.
REMEMBER: Turnover happens when employees aren’t engaged and having their needs met. They will move on until they find a company that can fulfill what they want.
#5: Pause and Redirect
If you’re experiencing the gatekeeper or permission-focused employee, pausing and redirecting can be an incredible tool to encourage empowerment.
As they ask you questions, ask questions back, such as, “what do you think we should do?” This allows them to gain confidence, and with answers that are suitable to you, simply state, “that’s great, and I agree. In the future, I trust you to make these decisions on your own.”
TRAINING TIP: Boundaries are important when empowering employees. Without specific boundaries set as to the types of decisions employees are allowed to make, some may take advantage and not seek approval, which could be costly to your team or the organization. When setting intentions, also set boundaries.
A healthy organization begins with a healthy and confident workforce. If you’re feeling tired of answering the day-to-day questions and sense a lack of initiative from your team or employees, it’s time to schedule a 15-minute workplace diagnosis with me.