How do you make your employees feel empowered?
Last week, I blogged about something I’ve been meaning to share for some time now – 5 Critical Lessons All Effective Leaders Must Learn. It took me quite a while to write that piece because I wanted to reflect on all the tough times I’ve had since the inception of our business, and how I was able to surpass every single hurdle in the way.
Needless to say, I couldn’t have done it without the help of my awesome team. This amazing group of people give me strength on a daily basis and a reason to push on, even when faced with the toughest of situations.
Which is why I wanted to write this blog today. Again, let me ask you…
- How do you make your employees feel empowered?
- How do you cultivate their strengths so they become the best at what they do?
- How do you give them enough freedom to imagine the possibilities and do great things?
Like the journey to being an effective leader, knowing how to empower your employees is something you learn best by experience.
So today, I’d like to share with you five important lessons that I’ve learnt through experience to empower your team.
Before we do that though, let me share with you this snippet of this thoughts about empowerment. The team at The Productivity Pro nailed what this word means and took the words right out of my mouth.
“Empowerment isn’t a right, it’s a privilege.”
Your employees should only be empowered when they have proven that they are worthy of the privilege. On the other hand, everyone should have the right to prove themselves worthy of the opportunity.
If you don’t encourage your team to show up with their best A game, how can they reach their true potential? They can’t. Instead of robbing them of being the best they can possibly be, encourage them to do their absolute best in every situation.
“Empowerment isn’t a bunch of motivational posters or empty slogans that management pays lip service to but doesn’t really follow.”
It takes more than just motivational posters and a few slogans plastered around the office to make your employees feel empowered. As management, it is your responsibility to make your employees feel inspired to do their best.
“Empowerment isn’t a blank check to do anything the employee wants.”
Just because you’ve given them the privilege to feel empowered, doesn’t mean that they can do everything and anything they want either. They have to have boundaries and you have to enforce those boundaries. If not? Things can go downhill pretty quickly.
Now that we understand the scope of empowerment, let me share with you the most important lessons I’ve learnt to make employees feel empowered.
Lesson #1: Encourage honest feedback by having an “anonymous feedback” system.
Honest feedback systems are critical to business success. They serve as a guide for business owners in making important decisions, whether product related or for internal matters.
If there are people whose feedback you should value most, it’s your employees. They know your products and services more than anyone. Here’s a fact: most of your employees have constructive criticisms and a lot will have really awesome ideas.
The problem, however, is how they can tell you about it.
Let me give you an example…
You work all night for a product update that you wish to roll in a few days. In an early morning meeting, you introduce your work to your team.
One of your member reads your proposal and think he has a better idea. But knowing that you had an allnighter for this, he becomes hesitant to voice his thoughts out.
Although most modern business owners now encourage an open door system, it’s still common to find employees keeping their opinion to themselves to avoid conflict.
This is where an honest feedback system comes in. By creating an honest feedback system for your employees, you can give them an avenue to be honest with you without feeling the fear of losing their jobs.
If they don’t fear you, they become more honest.
Apart from also having a ‘suggestion box’ pride of place in your workplace, another more advanced online product I’m about to dive into is done through regular online anonymous surveys of my team. It’s called Officevibe and it’s a really cool new app out that can measure and report on my team’s culture.
Building our culture is one top of my priorities this year so I’ll keep you posted on how this software goes towards helping me improve it — and most importantly, measure it!
Lesson #2: Don’t go overboard in micromanaging.
How many times have you heard that a relationship only works if there’s trust?
A professional relationship between an employer and an employee needs trust as much as any other relationship. When you assign your employees a task, give them clear goals and parameters, then give them the freedom to complete the task the way they think is best.
For me, it’s not a problem, I’ve never been the micromanager type, however I have encountered a few in my days and it’s not pretty.
Eddie Kreinik, CEO of MagicInk Interactive, said that his employees became happier and more productive when he went from micromanagement to letting them “shape their own business”.
I love the idea of each of my team thinking, feeling and acting as though their job is their own little profitable business unit and I believe it’s a new way of thinking we need to explore — especially adapting the jobs we offer working with the younger demographics coming up through the ranks now.
Ownership, flexibility and freedom are key and a real way of the future of employment.
Lesson #3: Give the right levels of authority.
Another way to make your employees feel empowered is to give them authority within their functional areas.
Give them the power to decide on the tasks under their management. It makes sense, right? The people who knows what to do are the ones who are focused on the task. Thus, eliminate some steps for work approval and give them the right to approve and disapprove suggestions for their department.
But what if they fail? What if they make the wrong decisions?
Let them. I can only say two things about this:
A good leader creates more leaders.
Leaders learn from their mistakes.
Now just let go. 🙂
Lesson #4: Recognise their achievements.
Let your employees know that you recognise their effort. There’s not a better way to encourage creative thinking, leadership, and innovation than to know that you are always behind your employees in every step of the way – you’re there to help them when they make mistakes, and you’re also there to recognise and celebrate their hard-earned achievements.
Our business mentor adds incredible value in many ways however one he’s opening my eyes up to currently is what motivates and drives my team. Everyone’s different and no, they’re not all driven by money.
I’ve now added a question in my review process to determine which team member is motivated by what so I know how to grow each person individually within the team. Some are simply chasing recognition, others ownership, others flexible hours to spend more time with their families, and funnily enough the least amount of people on my team tick money as their top priority.
That was a real eye-opener for me but I gotta tell you, a refreshing one!
Lesson #5: Give them breathing space.
Once in our life, we’ve all been followers to some leaders. We’ve also had that one leader who we despise because they keep on creating rules that are out of this world and are only making us feel imprisoned.
A study from Microsoft shows that 39 percent of employees feel that there is a lack of collaboration in their workplaces, and that 40 percent believe that social tools – chat, social media, flexible schedule, among others – improve the productivity of a team.
Another study by Keas, a corporate wellness company, entitled “The Case of Facebook” reveals that giving employees Facebook access can make them more energised and productive.
So give your employees the space the need to prosper in their work. But be sure you also breed that culture whereby everyone knows that when there’s a job to be done, we all band together and stay until stumps to deliver.
It comes back to breeding the best in people and allowing them to play their A-game. When everyone is an A-team player, you’ll notice that if anyone slacks off, the rest of the team pick them up and command they deliver the goods. If not, they let down their team mates — not just their boss.
Let’s all learn from Doug Conant, CEO of Campbell’s Soup: “To win in the marketplace you must first win in the workplace.”
Employees are just as important as your customers. With everyone’s cooperation, company goals are met and plans are made into a reality. So treat your employees right; inspire them to become leaders and give them the space (and the tools) to improve and learn on their own.
Remember, your goal should be to be the kind of leader that creates more empowered leaders.
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