The best thing leaders can do for the overall success of the organization, is to empower their employees. A Harvard study published in the Journal of Organizational Behavior found that “empowered employees are more likely to be powerful, confident individuals, who are committed to meaningful goals and demonstrate initiative and creativity to achieve them.” The study also found that leaders who empowered their employees were more trusted and respected. However, many leaders go about empowering their employees incorrectly.
How To Empower Employees the Correct Way
In a recent Forbes article, Naz Beheshti points out it is commonly believed that leaders have two choices: hands-on (seen as micro managing), or hands-off, (seen as empowering). In reality, this mindset is a trap. Empowering your employees does not mean leaving them alone, it actually means delicately balancing both the hands-on and hands-off approach. Beheshti cites McKinsey & Company, an American management consulting firm, when she states, “Genuine empowerment requires leaders to be involved, to be of service, to coach and mentor, to guide, to inspire. It means frequent, highly involved interactions, just of a different nature than the autocratic and controlling style.”
Empower Your Remote Workforce
The COVID-19 pandemic has led to a majority of employees working from home. However, just because your workforce is remote, doesn’t mean you can’t empower them. In a recent article by Divvy, a corporate card and expense management platform, it is explained that empowering remote employees gives them “the ability to pave their own path, manage their own time, and allows them to become decision-makers instead of order-takers.” Listed below are three tips to help you achieve this!
- Be Clear and Direct: Being clear and direct about expectations and work deadlines is one of the most beneficial things you can do for your remote workforce. It both empowers them and gives them the freedom to prioritize projects and set a schedule that works best for their productivity.
- Delegate Tasks: Delegating tasks has numerous benefits for the whole team. It helps even out the work loads, gives employees new opportunities and allows them to grow, and it empowers employees by getting them involved with more decision making.
- Recognize Employees: Never under estimate the power of appreciation! Every workforce is different, but find a way to recognize employees and show appreciation for their hard work. It could be a shoutout in Zoom meetings, personalized emails or phones calls, and for big achievements you can even send E-Gift cards.
Empower Your Employees in the Office
While it is still unclear when everything will return to normal, now is the perfect time to be planning ahead. When your office space is open again and remote employees start transitioning in, you can think of it as a fresh start to empowering your employees the correct way. According to Beheshti, committing to this positive change pays off! As an executive coach, these are the three steps she teaches leaders in order to empower employees:
- Communicate: It all starts with clear and effective communication. Both leaders and managers must provide guidance and well-defined roles so employees understand exactly what their responsibilities entail. It is especially crucial to establish who makes final decisions so when the time comes, there is no confusion.
- Teach and Coach: It is important to remember that you have to let go of the need to control the situation while still providing hands-on guidance. Those in leadership roles resist the temptation to delegate decisions, only to step in later and make those decisions when difficulty arises. Instead, intervene in the form of giving employees options and teaching them how to make good decisions.
- Foster Empowerment: The workplace culture must be set up to foster empowerment. Leaders must create a culture that equally consists of both support and accountability. This is done when leaders are focused on teaching a variety of skills such as how to say no, how to have difficult conversations, how to manage time, how to approach tough decisions, etc.
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