What is employee empowerment and how do you go about devising a great strategy for achieving it?
Employee empowerment means giving employees a degree of autonomy, responsibility, and freedom. It is a management strategy that aims to ‘hand over the reins’ to employees, giving them authority over decision making and how they achieve their goals. It means giving them control and responsibility to manage their roles, set their objectives and be the decision-maker over their tasks, deadlines, and priorities. It is essentially, the opposite of micro-management.
Employees who see no opportunities to improve and go further in their career, won’t be your employees for very long. Providing opportunities for upward mobility and employee empowerment go hand in hand. Employee empowerment helps to develop a range of skills including leadership and management. While going further in your career demands such skills.
Make sure to delegate work. How can employees develop and feel empowered without getting greater responsibilities? Delegate with the remit of growing, developing and empowering your employees.
As we will get on too soon, mistakes will happen as you teeth into your employee empowerment process. What is important is that you offer good constructive feedback during the process. This means when employees do something wrong, and when they can do improve in certain areas. Instead of bluntly telling someone where they went wrong, or praising them when they do something right, be specific about the actions which you base your reasoning on. Be specific about where they need to improve and how.
There are a plethora of reasons why you should provide recognition and appreciation. Showing recognition to your employees for their hard work and for their successes. Your recognition provides motivation to them and will encourage them to take action, embrace decision making and engender creativity and persistence.
This one can be tough at times, especially if you are managing a lot of people. You can’t always give your employees as much time as you would like or as they would like. You can give them time though. Don’t forget it. And they will need it, especially at the start of their employee empowerment journey.
Another important point with regard to time is that you need to give your employees time to make empowerment work. Time to figure it out, time to try out new methods and strategies.
Giving employees a greater degree of autonomy is bound to lead to mistakes. But then again, if you aren’t making mistakes, then you’re not challenging yourself, your team and your organization. However, make sure that everyone knows the differences between an unacceptable versus an acceptable mistake.
Do not make the mistake of assuming that employee empowerment means that communication is now the employee’s problem, and not yours. Instead, what it means is that communication is now more two-way than before. Establishing better communication channels will make the empowerment process a lot easier.
Making sure that employees know that their decision making is their own. They are accountable. This may seem like a bit of a paradox, but it actually works. Hear me out. By giving accountability for their own work, it means that employees have genuine ownership over their work. Giving them autonomy and responsibility - key ingredients of employee empowerment.
Employee empowerment is a powerful tool to improve employees’ skill set, leadership and management abilities as well as decision-making. The increased scope of responsibility and autonomy means that employees will feel more motivated, more appreciated, more engaged and feel like they are developing.
Although employee empowerment will engender flexibility and creative thinking, it is important to provide employees with opportunities to develop these skills. It will make the process of empowerment easier and more effective. With regards to flexibility, allow the employee certain benefits, flexible working or remote working for example. With respect to creative thinking, although doing a task the same way is a sure-fire way of getting things done, encourage the employee to think of new and innovative ways or strategies to integrate into their work.
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