Empowered employees. Everyone wants it but leading empowered employees can be difficult and if done improperly can put the organization at risk. Despite the difficulties, the benefits of empowered employees cannot be denied. Employees who are empowered are 67 percent more willing to put in extra effort on the job. They’re also more willing to innovate and take the creative risks that help drive business growth and revenue gains.
Giving employees more responsibility and involving them in decision-making processes empowers them to take ownership of their work and encourages them to be more invested in the outcomes. When employees feel empowered in the workplace, they are also more engaged and more motivated to perform to their full potential. Research has found that seven in 10 employees rank empowerment as an important element of their engagement. In another study, highly empowered employees showed engagement levels in the 79th percentile, whereas disempowered workers rated in the 24th percentile for engagement. In order to reap the benefits of empowered employees, there are five truths leaders must follow.
One: Open And Honest Communication is Key
There must be frequent, open, and honest communication for empowerment to thrive. The leader cannot shy away from giving feedback and difficult conversation. At times, the empowered employee may have a great idea, but for one reason or another it is not workable, too expensive, or the consequences are not fully appreciated. Feedback flourishes where there is trust between the leader and the empowered employee, creating an environment where they’re free to express fully what they’re thinking or feeling. This will enable them to support each other and come to mutual understanding and resolution.
Two: It Is The Role Of The Leader To Initiate Discussion
Throughout any project there will be problems that surface, ideas that are generated, and progress that needs to be reviewed. The leader must make a point of initiating discussion in each of these areas in order to keep a finger on the pulse of the empowered employees.
When leaders initiate discussion, problems are identified early and can be more readily resolved than they might be at a later date. In addition, discussion leads to collaboration which spurs innovation and new ideas. When the leader and employee discuss the task at hand, it is an opportunity to generate new ways of tackling the challenge with different perspectives.
A key success factor in any empowered environment is measuring progress. The goal of empowering employees is a better outcome for the organization and in order to determine this progress, measurement must be discussed regularly to determine whether or not appropriate activity is occurring.
Three: Establish Clear Direction
Without a very focused vision and direction, the empowered employee will not thrive. It is the role of the leader to set and communicate the vision and direction. Once these are clear, then the empowered employee can execute the tasks with the confidence that they are working towards that common vision.
It is not enough to communicate the vision once. The leader must ensure the vision is kept top of mind, and provide focus for the empowered employees who are working to support it and make it a reality.
Four: Develop Knowledge And Skills
Empowerment can only work as well as the skills and knowledge the employee has. As an empowered employee continues to operate they will push up against the ceiling of their knowledge and skill. They will want to learn more so they can contribute more. It is the role of the leaders to determine with the employee what would be valuable training in order to accelerate their contribution, and then provide opportunities for the needed training.
The more an empowered employee knows, the more they are able to contribute. The more they understand, the more wisely they are able to judge appropriate courses of action. Thus training plays a powerful role in increasing the contributions of each empowered employee.
Five: Set Boundaries
An employee needs to know how much freedom they have and exactly what they are empowered to do or not do and it is the role of the leader to set these boundaries. Setting boundaries not only provides necessary limits, but creates a safe space for people to learn, experiment, and find solutions. The right parameters will find the balance between micromanaging and providing too much freedom without enough support.
As empowered employees begin to contribute and grow, their current boundaries will become confining. With experience and training, the empowered employee can contribute more and more without putting the organization at risk, their boundaries can be expanded slowly and safely, and as a result providing them with greater autonomy.
A leader’s ability to empower employees has a significant impact on business results. By harnessing the potential of others, leaders can maximize employee contributions, increase engagement, and provide new opportunities for growth. Successful leaders are those who understand the benefits of empowerment and realize that the success of the empowered employee is a function of their leadership skills.