As I walk down the hallway to get to my office, I read the Tom Peters quote painted in big, bold letters on the wall: “Leaders don’t create followers, they create more leaders.” I think about how I can be a leader for my team, for my company and for myself, and I feel empowered.
In this day and age, a company’s success largely depends on employee empowerment. It is important that company leadership take the time to stop and ask, “What makes people feel so empowered that they’re motivated to work toward our common goal?”
- Set Clear Expectations
Employees who know exactly what is expected of them are more likely to reach their personal and professional goals. In order to make employees feel empowered, a company must create unquestioningly clear standards and goals for each. This enables companies to keep standards high and unambiguous, which gives employees a clear understanding of what they need to accomplish in order to ensure success and growth.
- Trust in Your People
Nothing makes people feel more empowered than to have trust placed in them to accomplish their tasks. This applies not only in the workplace, but personally as well. Good leadership understands that when it sets clear expectations, it can trust employees to successfully achieve their goals without hovering over their shoulders. When employees feel like management trusts them, they are willing to go above and beyond to meet their goals, quotas and expectations. This is an important step in empowering and creating leaders. Employees learn faster, make better decisions, and are more productive when they have ownership over a project and feel trusted by their leader.
- Foster Open Communication
Openness and constant communication is critical in creating a culture of positivity and success. Knowing how and when to give appropriate feedback can be the difference between empowering and tearing down an employee. Employees should never have to guess where they stand with their manager. To keep the lines of communication open, consider implementing the following:
- For some, annual performance reviews are one-way conversations, typically with the manager doing most, if not all, of the talking. Instead, try 360-degree reviews on for size. This approach fosters two-way communication, in which both parties are empowered to share information.
- Providing opportunities for honest feedback is crucial to successfully empowering employees. Another way to do this is through one-on-ones. They offer a forum-style environment, where ideas and concerns can be expressed in real time between manager and employee. One-on-ones can be held once a week or even once a quarter, but are more frequent than the annual review.
- Surveys are a great engagement tool, especially for employees who don’t feel comfortable talking with management about an issue. Surveys can keep anonymity intact. However, they are successful only if you hear the responses and act honestly and openly.
Reviews, one-on-ones and surveys are all great ways to keep communication open and empowerment alive within a company. When employees have a voice, managers have the ability to be intentional and facilitate goals that empower their employees.
- Turn Mistakes into a Learning Experience
Nobody is perfect. From the bottom of a company to the top, people are going to make mistakes. These moments provide some of the biggest and most impacting opportunities for empowerment if handled correctly. Don’t be afraid to share your mistakes and how you rebounded or what you learned. No one has found success by walking down a perfectly paved street. Tiffany McGowen, Paycom’s director of national recruiting, said, “One thing that makes Paycom special is that we don’t expect perfection, but we expect you to quickly rebound when you do fail.” A company that treats honest mistakes as growth and learning opportunities can better empower their employees to not dwell on the negative, but rather learn and move on from their mistakes.
Fostering a positive company culture is the key to empowering employees. Without employees, there is no company. Without empowered employees, you will see lower performance, quicker turnover and less companywide growth. Take intentional steps to create an open and positive company culture that empowers your employees. This is vital to a company’s success in the modern age.