A healthy culture is one that empowers employees, but it must be reciprocal in order to work. Employers put necessary tools and structures in place to empower their employees to make decisions, take initiative, provide feedback, and give their views on projects. On the one hand, employers need to ensure their staff has all the necessary guidance, tools, and structure to succeed and on the other hand, employees need to feel they can make decisions, give input on key initiatives, and really understand their responsibilities and accountabilities to be successful. Teams that are empowered tend to have higher trust levels, show more effective performance results and this leads to a better work environment and better return for the business.
How Can You, As an Employee, Use Empowerment to Your Advantage:
1 – Own and Map your Career
You must realize that you own your own career path. Never expect your manager or company to plan and map your career. If you know what you want to achieve and what your goals and ambitions are, why would you let someone else map it? To build an effective career plan, you need to define what you want to achieve, plot your goals against timelines and decide what learnings you need to complete to achieve them. Then sit and work through your plan with your manager to understand how to achieve it.
2 – Understand Expectations, Responsibilities, and Accountabilities
If you are not sure about any items around your position, employer expectations, department goals, or business goals, make sure you gain clarity and you obtain all the answers that you need to be successful. Ensure you clearly understand what is required from your role, how you will be measured, and what the goals are that need to be achieved. Understanding your own goals and responsibilities will empower you to make better decisions and ensure items are prioritized that will help you achieve set goals. The more information and understanding you have, the easier it is to take initiative and create success for yourself, your team, and the business.
3 – Obtain Regular Feedback
Reflection is an important part of your empowerment journey. Understanding both good decisions and bad decisions being willing to learn you’re your mistakes will all help improve your skills and future decision making. It is helpful to get a holistic view, so seek feedback from a mix of management, peers, and reporting staff. Feedback is meant to be constructive and should be used to reflect on positive and negative items. In addition, providing insight back to others to improve their performance and/or processes is also important. If this is done correctly, feedback can improve overall communication within teams and further builds trust. These conversations can also have a positive impact on the performance of the business as a whole.
4 – Work with a Mentor
It is critical to find a mentor that you can trust, have a good relationship with and have someone to bounce ideas and scenarios off. Your mentor must be a person independent from your role and should not be your manager. A mentor will assist you in defining your goals and guide you on how to achieve them and how to tie them up to the companies’ goals. Ultimately your mentor should be an unbiased party that can give honest insights and inputs.
How Can You, As A Leader, Empower Your Staff?
Leaders need to support, encourage, and guide staff in their understanding of their role, job, expectations, and decision making. It is also crucial that staff have the right knowledge, information, and correct tools that they need to use as part of their decision-making.
A leader needs to achieve the fine balance of making room for their staff to fail but having a safety net to catch them without severe consequences or damage to the business. Leaders need to trust their staff and ensure they feel safe to perform their functions and raise their opinions.
Communication is Critical and Creating an Empowered Employee Can be Done by:
1 – Focusing on Skills Growth
Ensure staff are learning, growing, and gaining the necessary experience to ensure they are successful in their role. New learnings mean fresh ideas are always coming to the business and employees are moving with the times. These ideas de-risk the business from stagnating. Investing in your staff sends a message of being valued which in turn creates value for the business and improved performance.
2 – Support Decision-Making Unless there is a Major Issue.
Empowerment is about respect, trust and knowing that your manager has your back. Leaders must create a safe space for employees to feel trusted and raise their concerns but most importantly feel that their managers will back their decisions. Leaders should only step in and intervene if there is a massive risk to the business. Effective ongoing communication and willingness to change, leads to higher empowerment.
3 – Give Autonomy Around Roles
Leaders must acknowledge that there are many ways to get to a goal and they must empower employees to do things in their own way, make their own decisions and understand it may not be done in the same way they would have done it. By ensuring staff are skilled, decision-making is improved, and freedom of autonomy can be given.
4 – Be Open to New Ideas
Empowerment is about bringing new ideas and thinking to the forefront, so if a manager is not receptive to new ideas, empowerment is hindered. It does not mean that every new idea needs to be implemented, that could be chaotic. But a manager that is willing to listen, ask questions, understand the ideas put forward and then implement these great new ideas, this process promotes empowerment.
5 – Recognition and Reward
Leaders must recognize and encourage employees and acknowledge their courage to take risks, make tough decisions and speak up when things are not working. Leaders should show appreciation and ensure rewards are in place.
Empowerment within the workplace improves morale. Each success an employee has, through feeling empowered, means a win-win situation which leads to ensuring company goals are achieved.
The most critical part of empowerment is accountability. Every staff member must understand their role, how they fit in, their responsibilities and expectations and understand key objectives that must be achieved. Accountability and clarity both help improve collaboration, resulting in higher team engagement and a focused business environment.
Empowerment involves giving people greater control and autonomy over their working lives. Start empowering today!