One of the most common flaws amongst all business owners and bosses is the need to feel responsible for every part of their business, including the work of the employees beneath them. While it is true that the buck needs to stop with you, you need to ensure that this does not manifest as you micro-managing and controlling the details of how your team completes their work. By empowering them, you could not only free up your own time to do something more valuable, but you can also benefit from skills and perspectives that you simply do not have.
Understand the benefits of empowerment
There may be some of you reading this, thinking “I know more about my business than any of my employees. So long as I can tip the scales on their work, why should I empower them?” Aside from the fact that this is a pretty arrogant assumption (for reasons we’ll explore in the next point,) you are missing out on the benefits of empowering your employees. First of all, they will enjoy better motivation due to the fact they feel that they have more control over their work. This leads to lower turnover, as well as improved quality of work.
Get the perspective that you’re missing
The biggest benefit, however, is the fact that you don’t know what you’re missing from your employees until you give them the tools to show you that. Implementing a basic employee feedback system will make this all too clear. Employees who are working constantly on the front-line are going to have different perspectives from you, who might take a more birds-eye view of operations. Similarly, their different skills and work histories make them more likely to spot different elements of work processes and standards that can be improved. As such, you should never underestimate what you can learn from each of your employees. Now, we will look at how you can help them share what they have to teach you.
We are all human. We’re all prone to errors of judgment, spurred on by laziness, tiredness, or overworking. One of the most common signs of the manager is bad delegation. This means delegating tasks solely for the sake of getting rid of drudgery, passing on your “busy work” to someone whose energy could be used much more effectively elsewhere. When you delegate, think about what your employee is likely to get from this delegation. Use it as a tool to help them grow, develop their competencies, and make them feel more responsible for the work that they do.
Build up their competencies
If you want your employees to feel more empowered and in control of the work that they do, giving them a sense of competence and confidence in their work is key. One of the best ways to do that is to invest in skills training for them. The more you train them, the better equipped they will see themselves and the more likely they are to apply those newly learned skills to the jobs they are already doing. Training your employees is also great for motivation and productivity, as it assures them that they have a future in the business. Otherwise, why else would you invest in them?
Learn how to mentor them through mistakes
There is no business in which mistakes should not be expected as a part of life. The worst thing you can do when an employee makes a mistake is not to reprimand them (though putting all the blame on them is a close second,) rather, it is to ignore it. Take mistakes and failure as a teachable moment, helping them better understand where they went wrong, from your perspective, and develop a strategy that can resolve these errors in their work. In turn, this will make them feel more empowered to explore and improve their own work strategies, and also teach them to be much more resilient in the face of challenge, rather than cringing away from them as a means of avoiding potential fallout.
Teach them the tools to hone their own work
Often, business owners and managers will step in and micro-manage out of a desire to do good. You might be looking at the work of your team and you might identify some of the ways you can reduce inefficiencies and make them more productive and handle certain processes. Feedback that improves work is often appreciated, but do it too often and it can wear on their motivation. Rather than stepping in and correcting how your team works all the time, investing in operational excellence training can help your employees do the same things themselves. When they are better able to problem-solve in their own work, they will take ownership of it, becoming much more invested in their own day-to-day and what they can do to improve the results of it.