There’s plenty of data around showing that team members who feel empowered are more engaged, more productive, loyal and provide a real positive vibe in your workplace.

The superpower of empowerment

What is an empowered employee? They are someone that you have shown you can trust to make the right decisions, to get their work done to a high standard in a timely manner, and to always act with the best interests of your business at heart.

They are employees who are not only competent in their job, but look outside their own role to see how they can help and support their team members. They know that a missed deadline has flow-on ramifications. They aren’t perfect – they make mistakes, but they acknowledge them and do everything in their power to rectify any fallout.

So how do you empower your team? How do you develop that self-sufficiency?

Provide the authority to make decisions

As a business owner – the one with the overdraft – it can be hard to loosen your grip and allow others to make decisions that impact on your business. Start by empowering team members to make small decisions without consultation, and gradually expand the amount of authority you give them, as they demonstrate the ability to make sound judgements. Provide clear guidelines and budget restrictions.

Be open to new ideas

Encourage your team to think about the business and come to you with any ideas they have. Make sure you listen carefully and provide feedback. Sure, a lot of the ideas won’t fly, but let people know that you value their thought and commitment to the business. Not only does this empower your team, but chances are that some real idea gems will land in your lap.

Develop everyone’s skills

Conduct regular surveys to find out what skills your team members need and want. Find out what other interests they have in the business outside their role, and think about upskilling them to provide efficiency in other areas.  Be on the look out for those who have leadership potential.

Reward, recognise and encourage

Recognise and reward performances that are genuinely above and beyond what is expected. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that you need to choose a star performer every month. Wait until there’s been an exceptional achievement to celebrate. In the meantime, acknowledge – both privately and at team meetings – those instances of consistent output, supporting others, always meeting or beating deadlines.

Walk the talk

The empowerment of your team starts with you – the employer or manager. You need to be prepared to take some small hits while your team learn to trust themselves. There will be a temptation to micro-manage, to double-check. By all means put in place processes that will stop bad decisions being repeated, but if you encourage your teams to be self-sufficient, and if you demonstrate that you trust them, then the rewards both in workplace culture, being an employer of choice and in an improved business, will be yours.