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  • Writer's pictureKeri Schwebius

Empower your employees

In my experience, there are two significant reasons to empower others.

It contributes to employee engagement.

Think of it from your own personal perspective. Why do you show up to work each day? Sure, there’s the paycheque, or the lovely (I hope) people you get to spend time with throughout your workday, but there’s got to be more to keep you interested. That something more is your ability to contribute.

Can you imagine showing up to work each day and having someone tell you what to do and how to do it? Never having the opportunity to share your knowledge and ideas. Would you feel valuable? Would you feel rewarded? People are engaged when they feel heard and have an opportunity to contribute. They are engaged when they feel empowered to make decisions about how to carry out their work.

It frees up your time.

When you don’t have employees coming to you constantly asking for approval and answers, you have more time to focus on your own work. It also frees up your mind or mental space. If you’re not busy solving everyone else’s problems, you have the ability to focus on the bigger picture.

So, empowering others isn’t just good for employees, it’s also good for you and the organization you work for.

How do you empower others?

Empowerment is different from delegating. Delegating is about allocating tasks, empowering is about enabling a person and supporting their growth and development.

Know your people and their strengths

Empowerment is most effective when you know your employees and what they bring to the table. Understand what they’re good at and where they want to grow. Learn about their experience and knowledge. When you know your employees, it’s easier to make decisions about what opportunities you will offer them and how you will empower them.

Equip your employees

To empower your employee, you’ll need to provide them with training, guidance, mentoring, information or other relevant support to set them up to be successful. When you delegate a task, you choose someone who you know is already capable of completing it. When you empower someone, you give them the opportunity as well as the tools to grow.

Make it ok for your employees to make mistakes

For people to learn and grow, they have to feel safe to make mistakes. When infants learn to walk, they don’t just get up and make their way across the room like a runway model. They crawl first, then they grab onto furniture or whatever’s available to help them stand up and keep their balance. When they finally let go of those supports, they still wobble and fall. Eventually, after much practice, they get stronger and are running so fast, you find it hard to keep up. The whole process might be different for each and every child.

When it comes to empowering employees, we need to be comfortable with mistakes they might make in the learning process. We also have to help them learn from those mistakes. Furthermore, we can provide feedforward, so even if they didn’t make a mistake, we can make suggestions for ways they could do even better the next time.

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