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Exploring the Top 10 Principles of Employee Empowerment

Employee Empowerment

To build a cul­ture of employ­ee empow­er­ment, man­agers should build com­pa­nies that embrace these principles

Employ­ee empow­er­ment is a top­ic that is increas­ing­ly impor­tant to CEOs, man­agers and busi­ness­es around every indus­try. This is due, in no small part, to the fact that empow­ered employ­ees are huge­ly ben­e­fi­cial to a com­pa­ny in a num­ber of ways.

The ben­e­fits of empow­er­ing employ­ees include:

  • Increased pro­duc­tiv­i­ty
  • More dis­cre­tionary effort
  • Reduced vol­un­tary turnover
  • More com­mit­ment to the organisation
  • Improved com­mu­ni­ca­tion

Employ­ee empow­er­ment involves giv­ing employ­ees a cer­tain degree of auton­o­my and respon­si­bil­i­ty for deci­sion-mak­ing”. If you’re look­ing to moti­vate employ­ees and boost per­for­mance, this is some­thing you should look to encour­age in all areas of your organisation.

Over the years, Clear Review has worked with hun­dreds of com­pa­nies to improve their employ­ees’ per­for­mance, and we have seen first hand what works and what doesn’t in rela­tion to employ­ee empow­er­ment. Below are ten prin­ci­ples that are vital and nec­es­sary to estab­lish it in a company.

1. A Shared Vision for Your Company’s Future

An employ­ee can only feel empow­ered and part of some­thing big­ger than them­selves when they can see the big­ger pic­ture. Let your employ­ees in on the company’s goals and over­all vision of the future. Once your employ­ees are famil­iar with your strate­gic plans, they will be able to make deci­sions to sup­port these plans in their day-to-day roles.

2. Uni­fied and Aligned Goals and Objectives

If your employ­ees are clear on the direc­tion of your com­pa­ny, goal set­ting will be much more effec­tive. At Clear Review, we rec­om­mend that employ­ees align their goals upwards. This means each employ­ee work­ing in part­ner­ship with their super­vi­sor to agree to objec­tives that will sup­port the over­ar­ch­ing organ­i­sa­tion­al or busi­ness unit goals. To tru­ly empow­er employ­ees, we need to give them the auton­o­my to cre­ate these objec­tives them­selves, with the sup­port and guid­ance of their manager.

3. Encour­age­ment of Self-Improvement

When your employ­ees are active­ly encour­aged to learn new skills and devel­op exist­ing ones, it’s bet­ter for the com­pa­ny as a whole. It will also give employ­ees the added con­fi­dence to explore new avenues and make bold­er deci­sions, as they are bet­ter equipped to do so and feel sup­port­ed by man­age­ment. To show your employ­ees this is some­thing you gen­uine­ly care about — rather than sim­ply pay lip-ser­vice to — sit down with your employ­ees dur­ing per­for­mance dis­cus­sions and peri­od­i­cal­ly agree on spe­cif­ic per­son­al devel­op­ment objec­tives for them to achieve.

4. A Sense of Trust, Con­fi­dence and Security

For an employ­ee to feel gen­uine­ly empow­ered, they need to be giv­en auton­o­my, and man­age­ment must show that they trust their employ­ees to make deci­sions. No two employ­ees will work in the same way, so man­agers should learn to take a step back and allow their employ­ees to per­form the func­tions of their roles in a way that is most effi­cient for them. Equal­ly, employ­ees need to feel secure in their roles — they can’t be con­cerned that if they make a mis­take, they will be blamed for it. For com­pa­nies to inno­vate and grow, employ­ees need to be able to make errors and learn from them.

5. Trans­paren­cy in All Areas

Com­pa­ny trans­paren­cy shouldn’t begin and end with goals, objec­tives and com­pa­ny direc­tion. Trans­paren­cy is crit­i­cal to the run­ning of a mod­ern organ­i­sa­tion, as well as the devel­op­ment of empow­ered employ­ees. If your employ­ees are in the dark with regards to any aspect of your com­pa­ny, they won’t be able to act in a way that tru­ly ben­e­fits your busi­ness. If you haven’t done so already, insti­gate an open-door pol­i­cy; make your com­pa­ny strat­e­gy and val­ues clear, and pro­vide employ­ees with mech­a­nisms to have their com­pa­ny-relat­ed ques­tions answered. This will ensure they have all of the infor­ma­tion they need to make thought­ful decisions.

6. A Will­ing­ness to Del­e­gate Work and Responsibility

Employ­ees can only grow and become more empow­ered when man­age­ment trust them to take on more work and respon­si­bil­i­ty. Chal­lenge employ­ees and show them you have faith in their abil­i­ties by del­e­gat­ing tasks (with­in clear guide­lines). It might feel uncom­fort­able to relin­quish con­trol, but by clear­ly explain­ing what is expect­ed, what the suc­cess­ful out­comes should be and who to get help from if need­ed, the risk is min­imised. And the reward in terms of com­mit­ment from the employ­ee will be more than worth it.

In his book The Hap­py Man­i­festo, Hen­ry Stew­art takes this fur­ther and intro­duces the con­cept of Pre-approval’. Giv­ing peo­ple the author­i­ty to imple­ment some­thing with­out fur­ther man­age­ment approval or sign-off. Stew­art points out that with this approach, employ­ees take more own­er­ship of the end result which leads to a high­er qual­i­ty out­put. We’ve recent­ly start­ed doing this our­selves at Clear Review and it real­ly is a game changer.

7. Fre­quent Feed­back Discussions

To cre­ate a strong and empow­er­ing feed­back cul­ture, man­agers and employ­ees should have reg­u­lar feed­back dis­cus­sions. This is crit­i­cal to the devel­op­ment of an agile organ­i­sa­tion. When per­for­mance dis­cus­sions are more reg­u­lar in nature, employ­ees become more con­fi­dent and feel bet­ter equipped to make deci­sions that ben­e­fit the com­pa­ny. These dis­cus­sions are even more effec­tive when they are com­ple­ment­ed by real-time feed­back — giv­en in-the-moment as events occur — using per­for­mance man­age­ment tech­nol­o­gy as an enabler.

8. The Abil­i­ty to Learn from Problems 

When a prob­lem occurs or an employ­ee isn’t per­form­ing to stan­dard, it is impor­tant to look at what can be learned or improved. Rather than sim­ply chastis­ing the employ­ee, work with the employ­ee to under­stand how things could have been done dif­fer­ent­ly and what would make it bet­ter next time. It might be that a work process needs to be altered or fur­ther train­ing needs to be offered. When man­agers take a coach­ing approach and ask the ques­tions rather than pro­vid­ing the answers, more often than not employ­ees are able to work out the answers for themselves.

9. An Hon­est Exchange of Ideas

In a healthy organ­i­sa­tion, feed­back needs to go both ways. Employ­ees need to know how they are per­form­ing and how to improve, but this is also the case for man­agers and com­pa­nies as a whole. Feed­back should be solicit­ed from employ­ees on how com­pa­ny process­es can be improved, how pro­duc­tiv­i­ty could be increased and how their man­ag­er can bet­ter sup­port them. This shows your employ­ees that their opin­ion is valued.

10. A Com­pa­ny That Recog­nis­es and Rewards Its Employees

You can’t expect to have a team of empow­ered employ­ees when they feel under-com­pen­sat­ed, under-appre­ci­at­ed or under-praised. Employ­ee recog­ni­tion is an impor­tant con­sid­er­a­tion and one that should be a core ele­ment of your per­for­mance man­age­ment sys­tem. It doesn’t have to take a lot of time or mon­ey, but a lit­tle bit of praise can go a long way.

To find out how we at Clear Review can help you build an agile, empow­ered and pro­duc­tive organ­i­sa­tion, watch our 7‑minute free per­for­mance man­age­ment soft­ware demo.