As a manager, you know that empowered employees:
- have the authority, and take the initiative, to make sound business decisions;
- are energetic, passionate and committed to doing a great job;
- are creative and innovative problem solvers;
- continually strive to improve quality, productivity and morale;
all because they feel personally rewarded for doing so.
But while the benefits of empowerment are clear, the steps to creating an empowered workplace may not be. Use these quick tips to get your business started on the right path:
- Understand what empowerment really is. Empowerment isn’t something you do to people. It’s an environment you create by giving employees goals, information, feedback, training and positive reinforcement.
- Identify an opportunity for empowerment. Start small. Create a work team by selecting a few key employees who have the right skills, knowledge and resources to complete a small test project. This project should be challenging enough to allow your staff to grow and take on additional responsibilities.
- Set clear expectations. Let your employees know what to do and how to do it. Factors to consider include: deadlines, channels for sharing information, methods for delegating authority, and ways to check progress / measure success.
- Provide decision-making guidelines. Provide clear instructions for when and how to make good decisions. Explain when it’s okay to the take initiative and when employees should check with team members first.
- Encourage open communication. Information sharing is a critical component of an empowered workplace. Create an atmosphere in which employees feel comfortable expressing concerns and sharing new ideas.
- Establish accountability. Provide the advice, perspective and guidance your team needs, but require them to create and manage their own solutions. If mistakes are made, do not step in and fix them – use them as opportunities for employees to learn.
- Let go. Tough as it may be, don’t micromanage. Once you’ve established clear expectations and guidelines for the project, it’s time to take your hands off the wheel.
- Provide positive reinforcement. For empowerment to permanently take hold in your organization, your employees have to want to do it. So celebrate the successes (however small) your employees have while working on the test project. Provide the feedback they need to feel respected and valued in their efforts.
- Review results, then take it to the next level. Once the project is complete, assemble your team for a debriefing. How did the group do? What worked? What didn’t? Use the lessons learned to develop a more comprehensive plan for getting your whole company on the road to empowerment.
An Empowered Workplace Starts with Great People
A.R. Mazzotta Employment Specialists can deliver the talented office, professional, technical and industrial staff you need to create an empowered workplace.