The Buzz of Empowerment
Empowerment is a buzz word right now – but what is it really?
Basically it is a ‘pull’ strategy on the basis that people accomplish tasks because they are attracted to them, not because of an external reward system or influence.
When we think of most businesses, the survival largely rests with the talents of the employees, rather than Plant and Equipment. Empowered employees are typically more productive, more satisfied and more innovative and what business wouldn’t want that?
On the other side of the equation, empowering your employees, or team, requires you to let go of some control. This is probably the largest hindrance in effectively empowering people; you need to review your need for power and control. In letting go you need to allow others to make decisions, set goals, accomplish results and receive rewards. So what can you do to make this happen?
You need to articulate a clear vision and goal
- Create a picture of the future you want
- Use emotional language to describe it
- Identify specific actions and strategies that will lead to it
- Set SMART Goals
- Ensure the vision and goals relate to personal values
Foster personal mastery experiences in your team
- Break large tasks into smaller ones and assign one part at a time
- Do simple tasks before difficult ones
- Celebrate the small wins
- Slowly expand job responsibilities
Model the behaviour
- Point out others that have succeeded.
- Find coaches
- Establish a mentor relationship
- Praise, encourage and express approval
- Send letters or notes of praise to co-workers
- Provide regular feedback
- Use informal social activities to build cohesion (a sense of corporate citizenship)
- Provide down time and supervise less closely
Use positive emotions
- Highlight compatibility between personal values and organisational goals
- Clarify the impact on the customer
- Ensure you let people know ALL task relevant information
- Continuously provide additional information and data.
- Training and development experiences
- Technical and administrative support
- Ensure there is ample time, workspace and equipment
- Ensure access to information
- Provide increased discretion to commit resources
- Assign them an important task or problem
- Let the team solve it and implement the solution
- Have team facilitators rather than leaders
- Encourage information sharing and learning
- Provide rewards for effectiveness
- Help members teach each other
- Be reliable and consistent
- Be fair and equitable
- Be open and honest
- Be competent
Perhaps most importantly, don’t confuse empowering someone with delegating a task. Delegation is a directed task, with the individual having some say on how it is performed. An empowered employee will embrace organisational issues as their own. They will then attempt to solve problems or seek out support and resources to do so. If you’ve implemented the items above, they should be in a great position to become empowered, but most importantly, they need to feel that you trust their judgement and decisions. The true test of this will be your actions and communications when you don’t agree with a decision they have made.
Business Consultant | The Money Edge | Bundaberg