Empowerment. Much has been written and discussed about it, but what does employee empowerment really mean? Empowerment in a professional context means to “give your employees the means for making important decisions, and making those decisions the right ones.”
However, empowerment is not just another trendy buzzword, it’s a business strategy that can significantly improve your business processes and make your workforce that much more effective. There are many tools you can use to empower your employees but internal communication tools allow you, the manager to sit back, do your job and leave the micromanaging to the amateurs. Sound pretty good, right?! Let’s understand just how we can do that.
Self-sufficiency to foster employee empowerment
Just as parents raise their children with the goal of molding them into amazing self-sufficient human beings who function well in society, managers don’t want their employees constantly tugging at their corporate apron strings.
Since the majority of workers are non-desk employees and this is trending to rise significantly, workers have to learn to be self-sufficient and independent. As a manager, you can help them do this:
- Identify strengths: If your employees are remote workers, it may be hard to get to know them in person and develop close working relationships. Luckily, technology is here to help us traverse the the geographical divide. Employee apps are a great tool for managers who want to connect with their desk-less team. You can get to know them by creating an onboarding survey within your employee app, asking them to identify their top strengths and experience.Once a manager identifies a worker’s strengths, the employee can be given roles and responsibilities that fit these strengths.Leadership experts believe that giving employees roles that fit their individual strengths leads to efficiency and organizational success. Now doesn’t that sound awesome?!
- Streamline processes and procedures: When an Organization is structured properly, employees know where to turn to for what they need. When a manager sets up policies, procedures, and processes to effectively manage a team, employees don’t need to constantly come to the manager since they already know what to do. If you are managing a few retail stores, for example, you can upload work procedures like checklists to ensure on-the-job compliance. You can also set up an onboarding e-learning procedure so that every new employee trains to become self-sufficient in their role.
- Set up mini teams: If you as a manager are not physically available on the job — especially if you are managing multiple sites — you can set up smaller teams that are based in the same geographic area to support each other and foster independence and self-sufficiency. Smaller teams provide a good environment for meaningful work. Think about it — when a manager isn’t around, who do employees turn to for support or questions? Their fellow employees. Creating smaller teams can create an environment that is more personal, secure, and one that facilitates shared experiences, challenges, and successes. This builds positive working relationships that lead to real friendships. And people who have a good friend at work are seven times more likely to be engaged in their job. Employee communication tools can empower your workforce by providing a platform to set up group messages, or a specific library for each for each position or mini team, enhancing communication and team spirit.
- Don’t micromanage: If you want your employees to be self-sufficient and independent, let them! When an employee joins your team, they may need more support and management; when they are fully trained and ready to fly, let them fly! Of course there are exceptions with problematic employees who need more support and guidance, but for the majority of workers, if you train them, make sure they have the knowledge, trust them, they will be self-sufficient if you allow them to be.
One more tip before we move on. Self-sufficiency should not be confused with “letting everybody do their own thing”. As a manager you still have the responsibility of aligning your employees around your company’s goals. It doesn’t end there: us humans are are social beings. We’re not programmed to be entirely self-sufficient.
In fact, our interdependence as social beings is what makes us stronger. Self- sufficiency doesn’t mean being able to figure it all out on your own. It means being able to use your friends, co-workers, and environment continuously advance your own and common goals together.
Ownership and reward
The majority of Americans workers today are disengaged. Anyone with common sense (and Gallup) will tell you that. Fine. But what does it mean?
It means that over $10 billion is lost annually because of high employee turnover rates. On the flip side, companies with employees that report feeling encouraged and involved in the company’s goals and operations outperform those with with disengaged employees by 202%. So it’s no secret that employees who are engaged and empowered perform better, translating to individual and collective success. Let’s dig into how managers can give space for empowerment, leading to a sense of ownership, pride and reward:
- Empowerment starts with trust: If you are constantly nagging your employees, never letting them explore and be creative, then they will never become “empowered”. A manager must give the space for them to ask questions and feel a sense of pride and ownership over their roles. Having remote workers may give you a leg up in this, because 82% of remote workers report lowered stress levels, because they say they work in an environment they are comfortable with.Distance does introduce certain challenges, especially with regards to internal communications and workforce efficiency, but distance may not be a bad thing after all. Stay in touch with employees via an internal communications app, with the most relevant and important items delivered securely through a private or group messaging which can include video or images.
- Knowledge is power: And so is effective communication. If you’ve been doing more than skimming through this article then you probably got a hint of this theme by now. With an employee communication solution, employees can access resources anytime, anywhere.For example, offer libraries of information which can be segmented by mini teams, locations or positions. Courses can also be set up for e-learning purposes, to enhance employee knowledge and competence. When employees feel confident at their jobs, they feel a sense of ownership and pride that becomes a positive feedback loop — they’ll continue to do well as they feel good about their job.
- Reward empowerment and good performance: Praise and accolades are nice but what better way to enhance productivity than with actual rewards? There are many ways to reward your employees — the classic Employee of the Month gift card is a great example, as are weekly “shout-outs” via your employee app to pinpoint great performance or periodical successes.Higher-level rewards like bonuses, raises or promotions can also be distributed and announced by using your own company app and reaching your team while away from their desks.Don’t know where to start? Start small with weekly “shout-out” messages on your for all employees to see. Positive, public recognition, even though seemingly small, is a motivation booster and keeps the good vibes going.
Great Management is About Great Communication
It’s a wonder how far a small tool can take you. No one ever thought mobile phones could work wonders and become miniature computers, as they are today. So employee communication tools, seemingly small, can do wonders for your team. A tool like this can foster employee empowerment by allowing workers to become self-sufficient, independent, with a sense of ownership and pride.
And you, as the manager, have the power to reward your productive and empowered employees, whether with a substantial bonus, a $20 Target gift card, or simple words of encouragement. Rather than the micromanagement techniques of old, try empowering your team — freeing up your time while giving your employees a boost of confidence, knowledge and pride.