As I discussed in my last blog, empowered employees are better employees. They’re more motivated, more productive, more vested in the organization’s success, and more likely to do much better work. So how do you go about empowering your direct reports? Here are four proven ways that have worked for me in the past:
1. Open the lines of communication – Don’t just formulate plans and inform your staff that this is what they have to do. Solicit their input, too. Share the big picture of what you’re trying to accomplish and your ideas on how to get there, and then make it clear that you want to consider their ideas as well. Opening the lines of communication and making your direct reports part of the decision-making process is the first step towards empowerment. You’re essentially telling them, “You matter, and I care what you have to say.”
2. Reward participation – Whenever you empower people to do more and bring more, let them know that they’ll be rewarded, either with recognition (often the most successful reward) or something tangible. On the flip side, don’t punish people for making mistakes. Make it safe for them to bring forward their ideas and try new things.
3. Show them a bigger future – Let people know that you’re not just empowering them to do better in their current role, you’re thinking about their future with the organization as well. Whenever you talk about what a person’s job is, also paint the picture of how much bigger their role can be. For example, “This is your position as a Billing Clerk. You’re a great Billing Clerk, and I’m very pleased with your work. Looking down the road, I’d like to see you move up to Accounting Supervisor, and here’s how we’ll get you there.”
4. Appreciate their contributions –Make sure employees understand that their contributions to the company are valued. Build up their self-esteem. Remind them about what they’re capable of, and the impact they have. For example, you can tell the receptionist that his job is just to answer the phones and make coffee. Or you can talk about the big difference he makes because he is responsible for potential clients’ first impressions of your company.
Of course, this list is just a start, as there are many ways to empower your direct reports and other employees. Once you do, the excitement will be contagious, and the entire company will benefit.