28 Apr The Power of Employee Empowerment When Growing a Business – It Isn’t a Cliché
The single most important asset of any business is its people. Without them, the business has no direction, no public face, and no voice. Your employees literally give shape to your business’s identity and are essential to achieving true growth.
And of course, we always hear that employees must be empowered if we want happy, productive employees that feel engaged and invested in their work. In fact, I feel the word empowerment has almost become a cliché because it is so overused.
That said – if done correctly – empowered employees really can be a key to growing your business.
What is Empowerment and Why Empower Employees
Empowerment has become somewhat of a cliché because managers and organizations have various interpretations of what employee empowerment means and what is involved in putting it into practice. Many feel that empowering employees means relinquishing responsibility to those employees to make decisions and lead the business or organization. From my perspective, that is not the case.
Empowerment does mean giving up some of the power traditionally held by the managers or executives, but it certainly doesn’t mean that all authority and decision making is relinquished.
A good definition of employee empowerment is sharing information, rewards, and power with employees so they have input and control over their work, and the ability and desire to openly share suggestions and ideas about their job and the business overall.
This means they do need to be making decisions and being accountable for their results.
Empowered employees are more productive and show initiative by taking on and completing tasks with little guidance – they are most managers’ dream employees.
Empowerment can create inspiration, drive, ambition, and a connection with your company’s products or services. And, certainly more work and better results equate to better customer satisfaction, greater output, and ultimately, a growing bottom line for your company.
The problem is that not all employees are created equal and it requires a huge commitment from the leadership team to create an environment of empowerment.
Your employees are unique – each with individual strengths and potential – so there is no “one size fits all” approach to empowerment. And, let’s face it, not all employees are motivated by decision-making opportunities and a more autonomous work environment – and that is OK.
Start with understanding which employees want to be challenged, want to make decisions and are energized by more control and power, then start implementing the following critical approaches that will drive their empowerment.
How to Empower Employees
While the following approaches will require a time commitment, a real focus on employee growth and development and the ability to let go of micro-managing tendencies, the approaches are tenets of basic employee satisfaction/engagement feedback surveys and as a result can benefit all employees.
- Communication, Communication, Communication. Without it any empowerment process will fail. First management must be willing to be transparent and communicate every aspect of the business to employees in an open and honest way. There also must be structured approaches for employees to provide their thoughts, ideas, observations and feelings easily and on a regular basis. Managers must provide plenty of contexts on the why and how so employees can learn and understand what information is important and how decisions are made.
- Clear Roles and Responsibilities. If you don’t know what you are supposed to do it is hard to do it well. Even if the employee performs several roles, role clarity is critical so that everyone knows their boundaries and redundancy is eliminated. It also provides the basis for changing and enlarging the scope of a job so the employee can continue to grow their responsibilities – many times actually taking on some of their manager’s tasks.
- Clear Accountability. People do what they get measured on. It is hard to be truly accountable if you are not clear on what success looks likes. Clear performance metrics can usually be established and if some responsibilities can’t be measured, the employee can be involved in setting their objectives and goals so they know exactly what they need to do to be successful. Then the manager needs to get out of the way and let them go!!!
- Provide Challenge and Opportunity. Provide constant opportunities for self–development and help employees set a plan for growth. Make sure they have opportunities to test some of their ideas and learn from failures and successes, and be sure to support their independence along the way. Most of all make sure they understand how to advance. Most people want to have a say in their career – the empowered employee will strive to improve and advance.
- Appreciate Their Efforts. The best employees don’t work just for the money; you need to make sure employees know you care. If you have done all of the above, then they need to feel that their participation is appreciated and their contributions are valued. Regularly find ways to say “thank you” and celebrate the good things employees do. In fact, try picking one day and only look for the good things everyone is doing. You will quickly realize how often our mindset is focused on everything that goes wrong rather then everything that goes right!
Empowered Employees – The Power Behind Your Business’ Growth
Empowered employees are the best asset a company can have. They are more productive, more creative, and feel a greater sense of responsibility to the company. They can also make it possible for you to spend less time pulled in too many directions, and more time focusing on critical tasks.
Empowered employees will improve productivity, enhance the value of your company’s product or service, and allow you to quickly grow your business and its bottom line.