As a manager, it is your responsibility to keep your employees firing on all cylinders. This, of course, does not happen overnight. This article explains ways to empower employees.
You have to put in daily effort and time into ensuring your leadership is aligned with the company’s vision.
However, there is a fine line between effective management and micromanagement that is crossed all too often — the latter being a management style wherein a manager closely monitors and/or controls their subordinates’ work.
Micromanagement only serves to frustrate your employees and reduces their motivation while also hurting your organisational productivity. That is because you spend much of your time checking up on your team rather than doing revenue-generating tasks yourself.
By contrast, empowering employees to make decisions boosts their morale and enhances their productivity and their managers.
This change in attitude has direct consequences on profits, as research shows that only 4% of employees are willing to ramp up efforts when empowerment is low, which goes up to 67% when empowerment is high.
Plus, according to Gallup, businesses with highly engaged teams — an outcome of empowerment — outperform peers by nearly 150% when it comes to earnings per share. Empowerment is a win-win situation that you need to invest in.
Seven ways to empower employees at your company
In today’s intensively competitive business environment, every company is thinking about driving faster innovation and enabling better customer experiences.
In fact, 71% of companies agree their employees are essential in supporting their digital transformation strategy.
A crucial part of making this possible is having progressive business models in place where employees are empowered to speak up, take calls and work individually and on their own without being micromanaged.
Plus, contrary to what you may think, empowering employees is not complicated at all. Much of it is simply about giving your employees more responsibility and having an environment conducive to open conversation.
Here are seven easy yet powerful steps you can take today to build a team of more empowered employees:
Be open to new ideas
Managers who demonstrate openness to new ideas and genuinely consider them are likely to see more empowerment in their teams.
For instance, employees may spot patterns in performance analytics that the manager may have missed, and they should be free to point out those observations.
Often, they present new ideas only to be met with dismissive responses, which discourages further initiative and reduces their morale. This should be avoided at all costs.
The thing is, while all ideas may not be equally good, taking the time to respectfully listen when your employees share ideas is critical to fostering a sense of empowerment and helping them feel valued.
Moreover, if they are unable to come up with smart ideas, it may be a sign that they need more knowledge or skill-building inputs, which is also something that you as a manager should pay heed to and act on.
Recognise and encourage with words (and rewards)
When employees are empowered, they need to take some efforts and risks to go the next mile. Companies that recognise and reward those efforts are likely to see such behaviours repeating again and again.
Leaders who show effective appreciation consistently see higher levels of empowerment and more productivity amongst their employees. It would be best if you also strived to build a team like that in the long-run.
Recognition can be as simple as a pat on the back and some words of praise in front of the entire team. Still, a structured incentive programme allows employees to feel even more valued and will encourage them to perform well enough to win the incentive.
Gift cards, cash bonuses, tickets to events, and meal passes all work as incentives that boost employee motivation levels.
Companies, big or small, can deploy a rewards management system such as Xoxoday Empuls, Lattice, Leapsome to run employee lifecycle surveys, understand their key engagement drivers, and measure continuous improvement.
Give your team members ownership
Employees who are given the power to make decisions and see them through are likely to feel more empowered. They feel trusted and valued.
Ownership essentially means that an employee is accountable for their work, be it a project assignment or an entire function and that the decisions they make are final ones that the manager does not automatically reject.
With accountability, your employee sees how their work impacts the rest of the team’s performance and starts finding ways to do it more effectively. It also enhances their self-esteem, which is a powerful way to secure their loyalty to the company.
Of course, it is essential for you as a leader to ensure that your team members, who have ownership, have the necessary skills and experience to use that authority well.
If you have to conduct regular training programs for them or have a one-to-one session with them to make them understand the value of their authority and to help them make the most of that, then do not hesitate.
Another component of ownership is digital empowerment that gives your employees complete visibility into the strategic direction the company is taking at any time.
When they understand where their employer is headed, why it is changing, and why those changes are essential, they can better undertake their roles and responsibilities.
Set communication expectations
Effective communication is the key to team productivity. Managers need to be clear about what they want individual team members to do and what the collective goals are so that everyone knows what is expected of them.
This allows each team member to take charge of a defined task and do it optimally without worrying about overlaps or miscommunications. The fewer confusions there are, the more productive your employees will be as a whole.
An excellent way to address common questions and keep everyone in the know about basic processes is by creating a tutorial guide or infographic. Managers can also design quick courses that orient new and current employees about company processes.
It will also be helpful to have weekly, monthly, and quarterly meetings with your employees to address their grievances, brief them about any changes and keep refining the way your team operates on a daily basis.
Incorporate some team-building exercises
Often, team members end up working in a siloed fashion and never really get to know each other. Team-building exercises can build camaraderie and allow everyone to collaborate more effectively — especially now that everyone is working remotely.
It is also a fun way to release stress collectively and to soften any grudges that team members might bear each other. There are so many virtual games you can choose from. For instance, Water Cooler Trivia, Pictionary, and The Escape Game are some of the more popular group games you can organise for your team.
When offices start functioning, as usual, you can take your team out for a day of sports-based exercises or organise group activities in the meeting room or at a co-working space you book for the day.
When socialising with coworkers, your employees are likely to create shared references through their conversation while learning the most effective ways to communicate with their colleagues. That way, they will be able to glean insights or ask for a favour from another team member faster in the future.
Employ project management software
Studies show that 88% of remote workers endure poor communications with other team members. Here, online project management can be exponentially more efficient than managing everything over calls and email trails.
The concept also contributes to your team’s digital empowerment. Therefore, invest in a project management software that brings all your employees and projects together on one platform, gives them all visibility, enables instant discussions and allows for real-time task tracking.
This way, everyone knows at all times what is expected of them. To further enhance your team’s sense of empowerment, poll them on what tool they would like to use or give them all demos of a few options and have them vote on the top choice.
Optimise the workspace
Particularly in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, employees need to be digitally empowered to access their workspace whenever they require it. This entails setting up a digital workspace that speeds up processes and enhances the employee experience.
Rapid virtual onboarding, for instance, gives new employees access to everything they need without needing to make phone calls or raise help tickets. They would be able to carry out their responsibilities seamlessly.
The more digitally empowered your employees are, the better they can serve your customers around the globe. The other aspect of workspace optimisation refers to your availability and attitude as a manager. It is all about putting control in their hands.
While micromanagement is a strict no, as we have discussed, your team members should always feel free to consult you if they need to. This further enables them to work their best, as they are confident of your support if things need a little intervention.
Managing a team can be tedious, especially if your team members always look to you for guidance. By empowering them to take ownership of their roles and make their own decisions, you can free up your own time and allow everyone to work at their most productive pace without constantly needing your approval.
This allows you to foster a set of happy employees ready to do their best, which directly translates to better output and profits. Employee empowerment, in short, is vital to long-term business success and employee satisfaction, and the sooner you invest in various ways to empower employees, the sooner you can reap those benefits.
About the Author
Hazel Raoult is a freelance marketing writer and works with PRmention. She has 6+ years of experience in writing about business, entrepreneurship, marketing and all things SaaS. Hazel loves to split her time between writing, editing, and hanging out with her family.