Despite all of the research consistently demonstrating that a highly engaged and happy workforce leads directly to a more productive and profitable business, engagement remains an issue for most organisations. The reason for this is simple, most managers struggle to let go. As the saying goes, people do not leave businesses they leave managers. This saying has also been proven to be true beyond doubt. It is so often a manager’s inability to empower their people that leads to all of the knock-on effects of low employee engagement. Empowerment allows an employee to be able to directly influence their work. If an employee is empowered, they will be able to learn new skills, they will be able to take on stretch assignments to fix problems, they are able to manage their own time to deliver the required outcomes. Without empowerment they are forced to sit at a desk and do what they are told and only what they are told for a set period of time each day. So how can an organisation ensure its employees are empowered?
For employees to be empowered, they need to understand everything that is going on. Information cannot be kept from employees. The most successful leaders are often the most candid with their teams. Their teams are very clear on everything that is going well, and everything that is going badly. This allows employees to be included in what is happening and provided with the opportunity to share ideas and solution to help resolve problems. They are able to directly contribute meaningfully to challenges within the organisation.
Set clear objectives
It is also incredibly important that each employee understands what their team objectives are. Goal setting or objective setting has been turned in to an administrative exercise in many organisations where they just copy and paste some of their generic duties into a HR system. Instead, all employees in the team should be able to articulate clearly what the team objectives are and how they are contributing to them. Objectives and goals are not the day to day business as usual activities that keep everyone busy. They are the additional tasks that move the team and organisation forward.
Ask Questions instead of providing answers
So, the team are clear on the challenges and the objectives in place to help resolves them. Next is for the leader to ask the team what can be done, not for them to tell the team what to do. If employees are doing what they are told and following orders, then they are not empowered. If employees are proactively providing solutions and then asked to give it a try and see if it works, then they are empowered.
Clear the way
The final element to ensure an employee is empowered is for their manager to clear the way for them. This means that there needs to be a consistent touch point for the employee to be able to highlight challenges they need help to be resolved. For example, the employee may have a great idea to solve a problem, but they require the collaboration of another department and that department is very busy. This is where the leader needs to step in and to help resolve the issue, by helping the team member get the buy in from the leader in another department.