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How to Empower Employees in the Workplace – 8 Tips

by Patrick Bosworth
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Empowering employees means giving your team members permission to take action and make decisions within your organization. It also means there is trust and understanding in place to ensure these actions are in line with company goals.

Empowering employees means giving your team members permission to take action and make decisions within your organization. It also means there is trust and understanding in place to ensure these actions are in line with company goals.

Empowering employees is important for growing a sustainable business. While many companies may grow ground-up from the hard work and dedication of one or two entrepreneurs, true growth is the product of multiple people working together. “Multiplying” yourself (as opposed to a strict leader-follower mindset) multiplies your organization’s strength and capabilities.

How do you empower employees?

Empowering employees is a culture. It takes an increase in trust, clear communication, and strategic delegation. To empower employees, consider the following # steps:

1. Delegate to develop

Delegating to take drudge work off your plate is often shortsighted and misses an opportunity to strengthen and empower your team. Instead, delegate with the intent to grow and develop the capabilities and responsibilities of your employees.

2. Set clear expectations

Define the boundaries within which your employee is free to act. By setting clear expectations (but not micromanaging them), you’re giving your employees permission to take make decisions while ensuring the decisions are in line with company goals.

3. Give employees autonomy over assignments

It’s okay if an employee doesn’t get from point A to point B using the same means you’d use. When you delegate, accept that this may mean your employee may complete the task differently than you would. Relinquish control, refrain from micromanaging, and accept that your way may not be the only (or best) way to complete a project.

4. Provide necessary resources

Many leaders complain that when they first start implementing employee empowerment practices in their organizations, they still get employees coming to their offices and expecting their problems to be magically resolved for them. Instead, offer tools, resources, and to be a sounding board for ideas.

5. Give constructive feedback

When debriefing on a project, be thoughtful and specific about the feedback you provide. Telling someone they did a “good job” doesn’t give them any direction for what to continue doing in the future. Be specific about the actions or attitudes you’d like to see repeated and the impact it had on others.

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6. Accept ideas and input

When possible, include your employees in decision-making and goal-setting. If they can’t be involved in these preliminary processes, be open to hearing their ideas and input. Not only can being receptive to new ideas help empower your employees, it can also open up your organization to great new ideas.

7. Communicate the vision of the organization

It’s becoming more and more important for employees to feel like they are contributing to building something as opposed to just another cog in the wheel. By clearly communicating the vision of the organization and how a team and its individuals contribute to that vision, you are empowering your employees with the knowledge that their contribution is making a difference.

8. Recognize employees for hard work

Showing appreciation for work well done makes it more likely that a person will do it again (and do it even better). It will also encourage them to continue to be innovative, take action, and to solve problems. Don’t be stingy with your thank you’s.

Why should you empower employees? Think of your dream team. Is it a bunch of workhorses who do precisely what you say (no more and no less)? Or is it a team of knowledgeable professionals who take initiative and use their skills to problem solve, innovate, and help the company achieve a common goal?

We’re guessing it’s the latter. While your company can likely achieve a certain amount of growth under your direct management, true and sustainable company growth takes a capable team of empowered employees.


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About the Author

Pat Bosworth

Founder and CEO
Patrick effectively coaches leaders at all levels and across a number of industries with a pragmatic, consultative approach. Previously, he was vice president with Right Management and held other senior OD and development positions in manufacturing and the professional services Industries. He holds an M.S. in Industrial/Organizational Psychology from Lamar University.

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