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.