How to Empower Employees: 8 Best Practices Great Managers Use
For many managers, knowing how to empower employees can be a challenge. Encouraging your staff to perform at their best might not be enough.
Likewise, fat salaries and endless perks can’t guarantee retention and performance; they’ll attract plenty of applicants, but they won’t always result in a hardworking team.
If you want to encourage empowerment in the workplace, employees need to feel valued, challenged, and optimistic about their future in the company. Unfortunately, the real world includes flaws, imperfect organizations, overstretched budgets, and limited time.
On their own, words like “engagement,” “fulfillment,” and “empowerment” may sound too conceptual. However, there are tangible, short-term goals that can benefit your company and empower employees. Below, we’ve listed eight ways to help you achieve that goal. Plus, see how BambooHR’s award-winning platform can help you manage your daily HR tasks so you can spend more time ensuring your employees thrive.
1. Pay Close Attention to Your Employees’ Mental Wellbeing
Many organizations either dismiss or fail to understand the connection between overall performance, turnover numbers, and employees’ mental states. Even organizations that understand the connection often don’t prioritize it. As a result, managers are left to deal with figuring out how to increase morale and retain talent while employees suffer.
If you’re wondering what you can do besides pushing people to meet the next deadline, consider mental health awareness courses. These can help team members notice symptoms of anxiety, depression, and burnout in themselves and colleagues. Empowering your team to recognize these symptoms can help them flag when things are getting difficult and can give you the chance to help.
Simply knowing the workplace is a supportive environment can be enough to boost the overall morale of your team.
2. Try Accessible Empowerment Strategies To Retain Top Talent
The good news is that managers can empower employees and create a challenging and engaging environment in the workplace, even if those at the top of their organization aren’t fully invested.
If you’re interested in empowering your team and creating loyal, hard-working employees, it can be as easy as changing a few simple habits and putting people first.
For instance, managers could consider:
- Setting aside time for wellbeing and workload check-ins at the start of 1:1 meetings
- Cultivating an open team culture where members feel comfortable sharing their ideas
- Creating an internal support network or Slack channel for employees to navigate their mental health in a safe space
- Celebrating individual and team accomplishments to acknowledge a job well done
Included. Supported. Retained.
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3. Collaborate With Others to Problem Solve
Many managers try to protect their people at all costs, thinking that by handling all the issues for the department, they’ll keep everyone happy. Unfortunately, that not only leaves team members feeling powerless, but it also takes opportunities away.
Challenging your workforce by allowing them to solve their own problems facilitates empowerment, sparks innovation, and shows you trust and value your staff. Next time you’re faced with a tough decision, see if your staff can help; you’ll probably find them willing to get involved.
4. Be a Reference Instead of an Authority
Sometimes when employers are figuring out how to empower employees, they make the mistake of overreaching when solving employee problems. There’s nothing wrong with taking charge and tackling the issues that are affecting everyone, but acting as a reference instead of an authority means you give accurate, trustworthy advice in order to help your team solve problems.
By encouraging employees to find their own solutions, you foster independence while empowering your team. Once the idea takes hold, your team will feel confident enough to tackle any problem presented to them.
5. Find Each Employee’s Wheelhouse — And Hand Over the Wheel
As you get to know your employees, you’ll get to learn their talents in the workplace. For example, a chef who can work the grill better than anyone else on the line, or a developer who has a knack for figuring out issues in WordPress. If you can identify that skill in every employee, you can use it to your (and their) advantage by making them the go-to in their area of expertise.
That doesn’t mean overloading one person with the same, repetitive task; it means putting them in charge of that arena and making them a reference for the rest of the team. There are few better ways of empowering an employee than by telling them you think they’re so good at something that others should be learning from them.
6. Back Up Your People
If you’re prepared to empower your employees (and you should be), you also need to accept that you have a responsibility to support them and their decisions. That means helping when they ask for assistance and giving credit when they succeed. You’ll also need to fight for them when people question their expertise, and even allow them to make mistakes—within reason, of course.
It takes more than simply bestowing responsibility on someone to fully empower them; it takes believing they can do a good job without your help and allowing them to do it. A good team stands together regardless of hierarchy and supporting your team can create a sense of belonging and loyalty.
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7. Seek Understanding at Every Level of the Organization
If you manage managers, how do you measure your employee’s performance? How do you know if the people they’re managing are performing well? When you’re busy handling your own task list, it’s easy to fall into a routine of interacting only with those people who report directly to you and vice-versa.
However, there’s life beyond that one-degree separation, and your behavior impacts the engagement, performance, and satisfaction of those people. Understanding the roles and needs of people outside your team allows you to better understand the actions your colleagues take and how you can empower employees.
If you ask about the pressures your direct report managers face every day, you’ll have an easier time helping them achieve their goals, and yours. Plus, if you understand what your entire team is doing and communicate regularly at an individual level, you’ll gain perspective and provide information and support that makes it easier for everyone to stay on the same path.
8. Offer Ample Opportunities for Career Progression
In traditional corporate settings, employees are taught that solid performances will lead to regular pay raises, with a title advancement every X number of years. But in a modern employment market, a traditional approach can give employees a schedule for when they should leave. This could be a higher-salary position after receiving a title bump, or a new opportunity if that title bump doesn’t arrive on time.
If you can offer real career progress, your organization can become an engaging new opportunity instead of a stepping stone on the way to more money. Offering employees training in a new skill, providing education reimbursement for obtaining an advanced degree, or unlocking internal opportunities for role expansion are all great strategies to empower people.
Empowering others starts with feeling empowered yourself. See how BambooHR’s complete platform can give you back more time in the day to focus on the big picture projects that mean the most to you.
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