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How empowering employees will empower your business
Employers are increasingly looking for ways to empower their work force. This is what modern leaders want in their team – a work force that is autonomous, independent and feels confident in their roles. However, empowered teams are not made over night (and neither are empowered managers, for that matter) so some work has to go into making sure you know how to get the most out of your team. A team that is guided and given the right amount of push will inevitably ensure a successful business. But much of the success isn’t solely down to the manager; it is about a little give and take from both sides – the managers and the employees. It is vital that the team evolves in an environment where everyone is empowered in working towards the ultimate goal of team success. This is achieved by having a manager who creates an environment where the team feels there is clarity, where the team has good reasons to contribute and every team member feels responsible for the success of the team.
As with any relationship, one of the most important things you can do for your team is to trust them, which in effect should be earned and extended. Also trust your employees to fail. That may seem like strange advice but trusting your employees to fail will make them better, according to Susan Credle. Understand that employees want to do a job too. Without the important element of trust, success will be even harder to achieve, if not impossible. When you learn to put your trust in your team and their abilities then good things will happen. By demonstrating good intentions, integrity, great management skills, you will engender trust and become a role model who is worthy of following. If you’ve hired someone to do a job, trust them enough to let them do it. Don’t try to micromanage as this will lead to frustration on both parts. But be aware not to abandon your team either. Real guidance, direction and support will help your team and lead them to success.
Getting rid of the often-detrimental top-down way of management can deflate your team. This way of management can stifle team creativity. After all, not every idea from the top is a good idea, just like idea from the bottom. Great ideas can come from anywhere but it’s important to communicate to your team the benefits of open feedback as this may encourage quieter employees. Plus different cultures have different ways in which they communicate in leadership, so this also needs to be considered, particularly when empowering a diverse team. Take the US, the leadership style is centred on structured individualism whereas in Japan the leadership is focused more on consensus. Fostering open communication, for example by encouraging open feedback to implement, is one sure way to empower not only your team but also yourself. It can take the weight off, too. If the hierarchy is more linear, employees will feel less intimidated, more open to sharing their ideas and that is when the good stuff happens. The organic structure allows for more consensus, better sharing of information, and as a result better decisions are made – especially useful is the environment is overly competitive. Acknowledge your team’s output, be grateful and implement any ideas that stand out. Try not to second guess them too soon unless absolutely necessary. A small knock to their confidence can trigger a big setback. A little exploration can mean finding a game changer (or game changing idea) that the top hadn’t even considered. Perspectives – it’s better to have many.
It’s important when managing a team to make sure you challenge your team. It is easy to fall into patterns which might not be conducive to success or even productivity. This is where challenging comes in. Say you have an executive on your team who is a little passive, throw them a task out of their comfort zone. If your executive is more analytical, get them involved in a more conceptual task and vice versa. This isn’t to bully them but instead to help them grow and see what else they have to offer. This not only helps your team’s skills grow and will help the company too. Don’t be afraid to let your team challenge you either. We can all use a little moving out of our comfort zone every now and again.
Make employees accountable
Now when someone gives a great idea the best thing to do is hold them accountable. Give them the power to explore their own idea, let them create a draft or a proposal or anything. Ensuring excellent execution by making sure your teams are aligned and provide all necessary support. When a team with systems of success executes with high levels of mastery, they will not build just one time success but sustained long term success. But hold them accountable. With clearly defined boundaries, goals and recognising extra effort, you will empower your team by giving them independence and autonomy. If they don’t deliver what was discussed, you can hold them accountable. Through doing this, you will be empowering your employees to empower themselves because your team will be more likely to use their initiative, they will feel confident drafting a proposal and by encouraging them and supporting their ideas and decisions, they will bring the team and the business success.
Empowered employees are critical to an organisation’s success. Fostering more communication, more autonomy and a lot of belief in your team will ensure your team is stronger, more capable and on to a winner.
Browse further articles on leadership development and other useful employer advice from Michael Page.
Michael Page has been empowering careers for over 40 years. Find out about our journey here.