Employees typically look to their managers to make decisions that will impact them and the organization. But it’s also vital that team members feel empowered to make some business decisions themselves. Autonomy in the workplace fosters a more efficient and inspired company culture as employees feel more valued.
This feeling of importance, and the trust it engenders, leads to better and more productive work. However, sometimes it’s challenging to know precisely how to ensure your staffers feel empowered. As a leader, it’s your job to motivate your employees to take more responsibility and create a more positive work environment for everyone involved.
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Employee empowerment in the workplace is a philosophy that calls for encouraging workers to make their own independent decisions. Leaders should be influential by giving workers the proper support to feel confident in their roles so they take initiative.
Rather than micromanaging your employees, employee empowerment is about granting them the autonomy to flourish with your guidance. Mistakes are viewed as lessons learned, and risk-taking is seen as a chance to grow. When implemented correctly, employee empowerment helps team members feel more comfortable developing as professionals in the organization. They take more pride in their work and feel ownership in the company’s achievements.
Want to set your employees and your business up for success? Try giving them more encouragement. Here are 10 tips for empowering your staff.
As a boss and a leader, it’s your job to get everyone on the same page. People who don’t know what they’re supposed to be doing won’t be able to accomplish their duties very well at all. Clearly define the company’s vision and the roles of everyone on your staff so they know their responsibilities and don’t step on each other’s toes. There’s a reason why communication is one of the three C’s of leadership.
Make it a habit to sit down with your employees and engage in one-on-one conversations. You can have these talks in your office, break room or at a coffee shop down the street. Intentionally ask about their work progress, such as accomplishments or even complaints, but also try to get to know your staff personally.
Ask what’s going on with their families or lives in general to show that you care about them as human beings. This will lead to a friendlier and more productive work dynamic. It will also help you grow as a leader. [Find out how to improve manager-employee relations.]
You also want employees to know their opinions are valued. A simple gesture such as leaving your office door open can do wonders to communicate this. An open-door policy shows team members that you care what they think while enabling them to give their input and play an active role in your company.
When your employees learn new skills, it improves the business as a whole. Some companies even support continued education or classes outside of the workplace that enhance personal growth.
If you can’t lend your employees financial support for their development, at least be flexible with their schedules to a certain degree. For example, allowing your salesperson or HR representative to leave half an hour early every Thursday for community orchestra practice can do wonders for their mental health and work ethic.
This might seem counterintuitive, but you’ll get much more out of your employees if you urge them to take time off. Prevent burnout in the workplace by actively supporting vacation time. [Learn how the best HR software solutions can help you manage employee scheduling.]
Your employees will be more productive and better at their jobs if they are well rested and rejuvenated. You don’t have to mandate full weeks off at a time, but you should foster an environment where a long weekend here and there is not only tolerated but actively encouraged.
As a boss or manager, you’ll inevitably have to delegate work, but ensure that’s not the only thing you’re passing down. Ask a staff member to lead an important meeting, even if it’s just while you step out to take a phone call. The best way to gain employee loyalty is by showing your team they have your trust to handle crucial tasks.
The best work to delegate is recurring tasks, tasks that interest a team member (whether they are already skilled at it or would like to upskill) and crucial work that helps meet a goal.
Life happens. Be flexible with your employees as things come up. Perhaps try a schedule that allows a parent to drop their kids off at school in the morning. As a bonus, they’ll be able to avoid commuting during rush-hour traffic, and they’ll come into work ready to switch gears from a personal mindset to a professional one.
You could also let employees work remotely to care for a sick parent or child if their role allows. If long work-from-home periods don’t suit your company, at least experiment with one virtual day a week or a couple each month. With the right remote-work plan, you might even find that your employees are more productive when working in their chosen environment.
Just because you’ve been doing a task one way for your entire career does not mean that’s the best way to accomplish it. There are always problems to be solved and better ways to do things, so use the minds around you and encourage your employees to share creative business solutions.
Not only will putting the challenge in the hands of your employees save you some headaches, but it’s also likely that you’ll come out with a better result. Clarify the ends instead of the means, and let your staff go about projects in their own way. They might not accomplish everything exactly as you would have, but they will get the job done with their own flair.
Sure, your workers are paid to show up daily, but it’s always helpful to receive appreciation and recognition. Whether it’s a sales call handled exceptionally well or a report put together flawlessly, let your employees know when they are doing a good job. Similarly, share the projects that people and customers notice. This will show team members that they have a real effect on the business. It will also encourage continued high-quality work in the future, and they will feel more satisfied with their job.
If you get angry whenever an employee makes a mistake, they will play it safe and not take any steps toward growth. This hurts not just the employee, but also the organization. The purpose of employee empowerment is to allow staff members to feel confident and courageous enough to take risks and make their own decisions, even if not everything goes as planned.
Understand each employee’s strengths and weaknesses so you can empower them in the best way for them and your company. For instance, if one of your workers is a great public speaker, have them lead the next meeting. If another employee has a way with words but prefers to work behind the scenes, let them draft the next newsletter. Give workers opportunities to shine in their own way.
There are many reasons to practice employee empowerment as a manager. Not only will it help your employees feel more confident in their positions, but it will also help your business perform better as a whole.
Julie Thompson and Sammi Caramela contributed to this article.