“Always treat your employees exactly as you want them to treat your best customers.” –Stephen R. Covey

The “my way of the highway” leadership style is no longer effective. Yes men and women who simply follow rules, policies, and procedures are not the kinds of employees who will produce results and generate growth. As a business owner or manager, you know that the more engaged and empowered your employees are, the more likely they are to feel a sense of ownership in your company. That sense of ownership leads employees to be innovative, customer service oriented, problem solvers who take pride in their work.

Of course, empowerment and engagement doesn’t just happen. It takes good leadership techniques to ensure that the people working under you feel as if they are free to make decisions and take actions with autonomy. Here are ten tips that you can use to increase engagement and empowerment among your underlings.

  1. Give Them Opportunities to Demonstrate And Strengthen Their Leadership Skills

In order for empowerment to be successful, it has to be accompanied by confidence. You can’t simply tell your employees that they have the power and autonomy to act in the best interests of the company and its customers. They need to find and develop confidence in their own leadership and decision making skills. As the leader, you can do this by finding ways in which employees at all levels can lead and make decisions. Eventually, you won’t need to direct them to take the lead.

  1. Tell Them

Make sure that the language that you use doesn’t contradict your goal of creating a culture of engagement and empowerment. If you are used to using an authoritarian leadership style that might reflect in the words that you use. Be mindful of the tone and words that you use when addressing your team. Your words should tell them that you are sincere about the work environment that you want to provide and remember that “Employees engage with employers and brands when they’re treated as humans worthy of respect.” –Meghan Biro

  1. Provide Regular State of The Company Updates

In order to act in the best interests of the company, employees need to be kept engaged with regular and candid updates on the current state of things, along with your vision of the future. This includes acknowledging areas of concern and struggle. Your team needs to know where things are going wrong in order to find ways to be proactive and improve areas of weakness. These regular updates will also keep everybody on the same page.

  1. Encourage And Enable Personal Development

The more support you give your employees regarding their pursuit of their career goals and skill development, the more that they will trust that you have their best interests in mind. One way to do this is to give them the time and resources to spend on personal development.

  1. Back Them up When They Use The Power You Give Them

If you pull the rug out from underneath employees when they act with autonomy, you will struggle to ever get them to believe your rhetoric on empowerment again. Now, this doesn’t mean that you can never step in and intervene if you believe a course of action is a mistake or redirect an employee who has overestimated the extent of their empowerment. It just means that care must be taken to ensure that the employee understands that the intervening action was taken in their and the company’s best interests.

  1. Reward Successful Results And Recognize Good Efforts

When employees show initiative and take action to solve problems, keep customers happy, improve processes, or create growth, your recognition is what will encourage them to do the same in the future. When their efforts really make a difference, rewarding them is an appropriate action to take.

  1. Give Them Space

Just like authoritarian language can undermine your message of empowerment, so can hovering and micromanaging. Give your team members space to do what they do best, and trust them to bring you in when you are needed.

  1. Review And Revise Policies That Could be Hindering Empowerment

If your written policies don’t reflect your goal of creating a more empowered workforce, your employees may be in an uncomfortable situation. It’s difficult to heed verbal encouragement to act with autonomy, when written policy is full of mandatory procedures and admonishments to follow chains of command.

  1. Help Them Pursue Career Tracks That Reflect Their Talents

It’s fairly easy to make employees who are doing well feel empowered, but what about employees who are struggling to find their footing. It is often these employees who need the most mentoring to make them feel empowered and engaged, while still directing them to improve their performance. In many cases, a lack of good performance is the result of an employee being placed in a position that doesn’t allow them to use their talents, and they feel stuck. Encourage employees to take on roles and responsibilities that reflect their skills, even if that means transferring to another area, or changing path they joined your company to pursue.

  1. Create an Environment Where The Possibility of Failure Doesn’t Create Fear

When people are given power to make decisions without checking in with their supervisors or running to a policy manual, great things happen. Sense of ownership increases, performance improves, and customers are happier. Unfortunately, another side effect of this is that people are going to make mistakes, and their efforts will occasionally result in failure. Failure in itself is painful enough for employees, make sure that you communicate that failure as the result of sincere effort isn’t going to be met with harsh criticism or penalty.

 

Photo Credit: Robots are Stupid via Compfight cc

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