A lot of successful business owners have been able to learn the secret on how to empower employees, and you are about to join that esteemed group today.
Empowering employees is very important in the cooperate world.
This is because of the many benefits it offers, and if as a business owner you’re not doing this, you’re missing out.
Nevertheless, you’re in luck because we are about to unveil the effective ways to empower employees so you can start enjoying the benefits of doing so as well.
How To Empower Employees
Employee empowerment is now being touted as one of the most effective strategies in increasing job quality and productivity.
Gone are the days when managers and executives take full autonomy and attempt to do everything themselves.
Employees are becoming more involved in the daily activities and even decision-making around the office.
However, before your employees can be adequately qualified to take this role, they must be empowered.
The empowerment process will involve giving them the needed training, and equipping them to take on new responsibilities in your organization.
Once they are qualified, then you will be more inclined to delegate more responsibilities to them.
Also, the empowerment program will not be complete without proper follow-up.
This is to ensure the employees are living up to expectations.
Aside from the time it affords the business owner to attend to other important things, employee empowerment has many other advantages.
If you have been putting off this activity before now, seeing the wealth of merits, it affords you and your organization should change your mind.
Additionally, this article’s close consideration would help you see what measures you can take to empower your employees.
Before long, you would be experiencing tremendous growth and development in your business, as is the goal.
What Does it Mean to Empower Employees?
Empowerment cuts across all aspects of life, from home, to school and even down to the work environment.
When one is said to empower another, it stresses giving authority or power to the person.
That is, power to carry out certain duties.
Not only to give out authority but also to give the person the strength and confidence to do this.
For example, in government or politics, this term is often used to mean a poverty alleviation scheme.
Certain individuals, groups, or organizations are provided with the tools and facilities they need to create a life of independence.
This is why sometimes we hear them say things like: “Youth Empowerment” or “Women Empowerment.”
With this background view of what the word ‘Empower’ means, let us now bring it down to the office setting.
What does it mean to empower employees?
To empower employees means to give your staff a certain level of autonomy and degree of responsibility.
It means equipping them with the needed skills and resources to carry out their jobs and do more adequately.
The ‘more’ aspect would include equally having the power to step out of their regular job description and make other decisions.
When you empower your employees, it means you are not limiting them unnecessarily, but rather giving them a level of independence.
The level of responsibility you give them, though, is based on the trust built and how qualified they are for the added responsibilities.
What Else Does Employee Empowerment Involve?
As an employer or business owner, you can empower your employees by letting them have a say in the company’s processes and guidelines.
That means you do not just make the whole decisions that directly affect the employees, but you let them make contributions.
It could also involve you assigning them leadership positions in the organization.
You might have different departments and allow them to head these departments while giving you feedback on the progress, of course.
This is contrary to the situation whereby you want to take control of everything by yourself.
Also, you can empower your employees to allow them to carry out certain other duties outside the scope of their job, and this too without having to run it by you.
At some point, some staff in management levels might even have to relinquish some of their authority and give it to junior staff.
Why an Organization needs to Empower Employees
As a business owner or someone in a top management position in your organization, do you see reasons to prioritize employee empowerment?
Or could it be that you have never been given attention to this, and it’s not even a part of your management structure?
If so, then it’s time to have a re-think.
Empowering employees is now being considered as a very effective management style towards business growth and employee development.
In fact, not only does it help your business, but it also has benefits for you as a manager, and for the employees.
Let’s consider these benefits one at a time:
It Relieves Stress for Management
Imagine the level of stress involved in handling every task and responsibility and taking every decision.
Not only that, you might find that you are very busy with the less relevant things while the most important things suffer.
However, when you empower employees, you take much of the weight off your shoulders.
This is because you leave some responsibilities and allow them to make some decisions within their authority.
In turn, this will relieve you of stress.
Increased Employee Engagement and Motivation
It is well proven that empowering your employees directly and positively impacts building employee engagement and motivation.
Nobody is happy when all their actions and decisions have to be closely monitored without some form of authority and power.
On the other hand, when you give some form of autonomy to your employees, it boosts their confidence and keeps them motivated.
They are more likely to give their best and be committed to the work they do because of the level of trust that has been shown in them.
In short, employees that are adequately empowered are happier, and happy employees are more engaged and have high morale.
It Increases Employees’ Confidence Level
One of the factors that usually affect an employee’s output at work is lack of confidence.
It is not uncommon to see very brilliant employees, possess relevant skills and talents, and fail to make exploits.
This is not because they are incapable, but they might be low on confidence.
Well, you can build up the confidence of your employees by empowering them.
When employees know that they’ve been trusted enough to use their skill set to perform a certain task and make decisions, they also trust themselves more.
They are more likely to take calculated risks and put in their best to get the work done.
However, when you limit your employees to just a minor passive role, it can make them begin to have self-doubt, and this self-doubt would eventually damage their confidence.
There’s More Productivity
Did you know that the lack of productivity in the workplace isn’t always a factor of lack of quality or effort?
When you do not empower your employees, they would most often have to run every little decision by you.
Not only that, but they will also have to wait for you before completing certain important tasks, even when you are not available or indisposed.
Just imagine how completing other tasks can be affected by the avoidable delay of waiting for the manager or supervisor.
While it is true that some decisions are the sole prerogative of top management staff, many others mustn’t be.
If you learn to empower your employees, you might find that their productivity and overall job output would drastically improve.
You, Will, Earn the Trust of your Employees
Another benefit of empowering your employees is that they will trust your leadership skills and qualities.
More so, when your employees sense that you don’t trust them, they are more likely going to lose trust in you too.
On the other hand, when you empower your employees, they know that you are more likely to credit them for their accomplishments and achievements.
This would build mutual trust between you and your staff.
Quality of Customer Service Improves
Customers will generally admit that they base their assessment of quality customer service on how quickly they can get their issues resolved.
In some organizations where employees are not empowered,resolving customer challenges might take forever.
This is because the customer service team do not have the right resources, knowledge, or even authority to solve a customer’s problem.
Hence, they will need to keep the customer waiting while they pass it to their superior or supervisor.
However, if you make an effort to empower your employees, you will see that issue resolutions are more effective and faster, and that will translate to effective customer service.
Employee Creativity Increases
When you empower your employees, you are also helping them to increase their level of creativity.
This is because employee empowerment focuses on allowing an employee to think for himself and make decisions independently.
Getting the opportunity to go through these procedures daily will push the employee to expand their horizon, and in turn, this can help them get more creative in what they do.
Risks of Empowering Employees you Should be Mindful of
Without a doubt, as you’ve seen so far, employee empowerment has many wonderful benefits and advantages.
However, it is good for you to know that there are certain risks associated with empowering employees.
Some might regard them as disadvantages of employee empowerment, but we choose to call them risks.
This is because the risks can be avoided and/or managed with the right methods.
Here are some of the risks that have been identified:
It Requires High Investment
Empowering employees actually do not come on cheap.
It takes a lot of investment in training, seminars, workshops e.t.c. to build up an employee’s skills and talents.
That means you will have to spend and invest highly to get your employees to the level they can be trusted with more responsibilities.
On the plus side, though, whatever investment you made in this area is well worth it.
Mistakes are More Likely to Occur
With autonomy comes great responsibility, and with this many risks are involved, which can increase the likelihood of mistakes.
While you must have provided needed training and guidance before saddling employees with added responsibilities, there is always a learning phase.
Therefore, if you are empowering employees, which is a good thing, you should consider that mistakes are inevitable.
Good thing; you should have a structure to handle them when they happen.
Overall, these mistakes will also help the employees get better.
Employees Might Become Arrogant and Abuse Power
Another risk associated with employee empowerment is overconfidence.
You would recall that we stated increased confidence level as one of the benefits of employee empowerment.
However, if not properly checked, this confidence can skyrocket into overconfidence or arrogance, which is not a good trait.
They might also start disregarding set laws and policies around the workplace and become nonchalant.
Therefore, the onus is on you as the manager to keep the confidence level in check and ensure it doesn’t get out of hand.
It Could Pose a Danger to Confidentiality
During employee empowerment, there are certain information and knowledge that would be shared with the employees.
This is important because they would usually need such information to carry out their roles efficiently.
However, some of this information are company secrets or other confidential matters.
Can you trust the employees enough to keep such confidential matters?
Maybe you can.
After all, they need to have that level of trustworthiness even to be given responsibilities in the first place.
Nevertheless, the risk is present and cannot be overlooked or belittled.
Now that that is out of the way, let’s get down to business.
How to Empower Employees
Having weighed the benefits and risks attached to empowering employees, you should now be in a good place to decide.
As we earlier mentioned, the risks are very avoidable, and benefits are numerous.
Therefore, here are some of the practical things you can do to empower your employees are:
Listen to your Employees
This is unarguably one of the first steps in empowering employees.
As a leader, you must be a good listener and someone who your employees can trust enough to approach at any time.
You’ve seen that employee empowerment and engagement are closely related, and both can only happen when the employees have a voice.
When your employees feel that their voices are always heard, they are more willing to give their best and contribute to the business development process.
Involve Employees in Brainstorming Sessions for Problem Resolutions and Decision Making
We can’t deny that business decisions is the sole responsibility of the business owner.
However, it is good to involve your employees in this process, sampling their views and opinions.
If you were to take decisions that affect them directly without getting their opinions, it might give them the impression that you don’t value their input.
On the other hand, you can empower them by making them a part of brainstorming sessions.
These sessions can be where you discuss a resolution to problems facing the organization as a team.
You might be pleasantly surprised at the wonderful ideas your employees will bring to the table.
Another way you empower your employees is by delegating certain assignments and job functions to them from time to time.
You might notice certain activities or roles you perform in the organization that another employee can handle if you look closely.
When you delegate these to such ones, it helps them to develop their knowledge and skillset.
It equally helps them to grow and develop into exceptional employees.
However, there is a point of caution.
When delegating, ensure you delegate with the right motive in mind to empower your employees.
Do not just delegate when you think you have too much to do and need an extra hand.
If you do that, the purpose of the delegation would be defeated.
Provide them with Needed Tools and Resources
It is not just enough to give added responsibilities to your employees; you should also equip them to function effectively in these roles.
This would involve providing them with the necessary tools and/or resources they will need to carry out the job.
When you do this, you are not just throwing them under the bus but empowering them the right way.
More so, they will be likely to get good results while minimizing mistakes.
Give Some Employees Leadership Positions
Another thing you can do when empowering your employees is giving them a measure of authority and sensing what being a leader involves.
When you have new projects coming up or have a new department you are trying to grow, it’s an opportunity to train new leaders.
Check around your team and see those who have the relevant skills and qualifications to take up such roles.
Then you can assign them as team leads or departmental leads of such projects/departments.
When you do this, it shows you trust them, and it’s a way to empower these employees to show their skills and do better.
Don’t try to Control Everything, Give Autonomy
We know you are the boss, and we are sure all your employees know that too.
However, you do not need to remind them of this every single time.
To empower your employees, you would need to give off some control.
Learn to trust your employees more, especially those with a demonstrated history of being trustworthy.
This way, you allow them to express themselves more and give them power and authority, though limited.
Refrain from Enforcing a Particular Process of Getting Work Done
In areas such as this, the phrase “The end justifies the means” actually applies.
As much as possible, one thing you want to refrain from is micromanaging your employees.
That means you should not want to influence the process they use to achieve set objectives and results.
Your role as an employer or manager is to let them know what you expect from them, or show them the destination, so to speak.
However, the road they decide to use to get there shouldn’t be much of a concern to you.
As long as they do not break company policies in doing so.
Remember that there is more than one way of doing one thing, and giving your employees the liberty to try their own methods is the best way to go.
This is what true empowerment really means.
Few things are as satisfying as getting a tap on the back after doing a great job.
As an employer or manager, you should not forget always to recognize your employees’ fine work and achievements.
A simple “thank you” can go a long way.
Also, when appropriate, you can also offer them rewards to show you recognize their efforts and contributions.
The result of that is the employee morale shooting up.
As a result, they’ll get better as the bar has been set high.
Allow and Support Personal Growth/Development
In a bid to get better, you cannot rule out the importance of relevant training and skills acquisition by your employees.
You might sponsor this as an employer.
Or sometimes individual employees might identify which ones they need and go for it.
Whatever the case, you should support the efforts employees make to develop themselves.
Sometimes, it might be that you do not see how the training they want to go for affects your business directly.
Still, if it’s something that brings them personal fulfillment and makes them grow, give it your support.
If you do this, you show them they matter, and it is also a fine way to empower employees.
Don’t Forget to Set Boundaries
Power, they say, corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.
While this is not a general rule, neither is it a certainty, but it’s something that can happen.
Therefore, be sure to enforce rules and set boundaries when empowering employees.
Let them understand there are limitations to the authority they have.
And also, make sure they operate within the company’s rules and guidelines.
It’s an important factor to put into consideration while working on employee empowerment.
Wrapping it Up on How to Empower Employees
So, what do you think? Is employee empowerment really an important management style or has more demerits than benefits?
Well, we will let you decide that.
However, remember, your employees are a strong pillar of your business, and whether you achieve success or not largely depends on their efficiency.
Employee empowerment has been proven to greatly enhance the skills, knowledge, boost employee morale greatly.
All these would no doubt proportionately increase employee efficiency and benefit your business.
Above all, empowering employees is worth the shot and definitely a wise investment.
So, use these tips to empower your employees and reap the benefits thereafter.