15 JUNE, 2022


What is employee empowerment?

To empower others means to encourage and enable them to perform their tasks confidently and, as far as possible and appropriate, independently. Empowering is the opposite of micromanagement, but it doesn’t mean leaving team members to their own devices completely. Instead, it involves giving them the necessary tools, training and knowledge to succeed, recognising when guidance is needed, and incorporating others in decision-making processes.

Why empowering your employees is important for your organisation

In our tight employment market, the pressure to retain employees and reduce turnover rates is on. While most leaders are keyed into the importance of motivating employees in an organisation, they may not know how to boost employee morale and motivation effectively. One successful strategy is employee empowerment. Creating a work environment where everyone feels empowered and trusted will drive up motivation levels – and the positive impact of employee motivation on performance is well-known.

Benefits of empowering others

While it might feel unusual to surrender some control at first, empowering employees to make decisions actually leads to a plethora of positive outcomes and will make for a stronger team and company as a whole.

Greater employee motivation

Allowing employees to make decisions, be creative and take matters into their own hands will make them more motivated. Paired with a well-executed support and training strategy, employees will feel in charge without feeling overwhelmed.

Increased employee retention

According to an analysis of over 32 million LinkedIn profiles, companies scoring high on empowerment surveys are 12% more likely to retain an employee after three years than companies scoring low.

Higher trust in leadership

A 2017 meta-analysis of 105 studies found that employees were more likely to trust in leaders they perceived as empowering, which also translated in a greater willingness to complete tasks or take on additional work and responsibilities.

Promotes innovation and creativity

Being told what to do all day is anathema to creativity. The same meta-analysis cited above also found that empowered employees demonstrated greater creativity, which in turn leads to innovation.

Ways to empower employees

While the benefits of empowering others are clear, the path there might not be. It’s not as simple as just telling employees to make their own decisions – there needs to be guidance, training, and an overall culture of empowerment within the organisation.

Have a clear vision, but support many paths to get there

As a leader, it is still your task to lead, even and perhaps especially when empowering others. This means having a clear strategic vision, but allowing others to contribute their ideas and suggestions of how to get there.

Show employees you trust them

By making your vision clear and giving support when needed, you can ensure that goals are reached – but taking a step back and allowing employees to work out solutions of their own will demonstrate that you trust them to fulfill your vision.

Delegate work based on employee strengths

Have you ever seen a team member struggle consistently to then suddenly see them flourish when moved to a different role or set of tasks? Delegating tasks according to strengths is a key part of leading and developing people, and a skill that all leadership positions should possess.

Delegate leadership and decision-making to employees

Skillful delegation has to be learned, but it can pay off immensely. In a report on decision-making processes within companies, McKinsey found that delegating the right decisions to lower levels of the organisation translates to a 6.8 times higher likelihood of being in the top 20% of companies surveyed.

Reinforce positive behaviour

Rather than enforcing punishment for honest mistakes, make it a habit to acknowledge and praise positive behaviour and outcomes. Write personal thank you notes, say a verbal thank you or give someone who excelled a shoutout in a meeting – this will reinforce the positive behaviour.

Foster a culture of self-improvement

Creating a culture of self-improvement can mean many things, from providing formal training opportunities to being flexible about schedules so staff members can tend to their self-improvement outside of work. Newly learned skills will benefit the organisation – sometimes in surprising ways – and foster a sense of progress and pride in employees.

Promote open and transparent communication

Make sure that your employees know they can always talk to you. Promoting open and transparent communication means that they feel empowered to ask you for help when they’re in over their head, preventing mistakes and allowing you to identify their training and support needs.

Don’t shrug off small talk

Small talk doesn’t feel inherently productive, but those one-on-one sessions with employees can strengthen bonds, increase trust, and sometimes even evolve into great brainstorming and problem solving sessions.

Respect work/life balance to avoid burnout

Make sure to prioritise a healthy work/life balance in your organisation by being considerate in granting leave requests, encouraging employees to take their leave if they have been accumulating it, and checking in with employees who have racked up a lot of overtime to see how you can help them better balance their workload.

Start training your leaders to empower others

Better leaders make for better teams. It is crucial that all team leaders, managers, directors and others in leadership positions within your organisation are able to empower others, which is why you want to invest in your organisation’s leadership skills as well as their soft skills. Realise your leadership’s potential with Deakin Co.’s corporate training and become an empowering organisation.

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