“It’s not the tools you have faith in—tools are just tools—they work or they don’t work. It’s the people you have faith in or not.” – Steve Jobs
Over the last decade, organizations have discovered something crucial: empowering employees is critical to the organization. Companies like Disney and Google empower their employees to deliver exceptional customer service and innovation that lead to cultivating a positive work culture and bring success to the overall business. With recent controversial topics on workplace issues, a new generation entering the workforce, and more people fighting to make it up top, employee empowerment is the core of building a positive workplace culture. Without it, your organization will be set up for failure, and the likelihood of losing your top talent is high.
Speaking up builds trust
After #MeToo, women feel empowered more than ever, unafraid to stand up and speak up against sexual harassment in the workplace. It took a few individuals to start a movement that changed the future for women in the workplace. In general, organizations today can learn a thing or two from the #MeToo and Time’s Up movement.
Encouraging employees to speak up will not only build a trust system in your organization but also create a safe, secure space that will ultimately lead to positive workplace culture. This will create a domino effect to empower others in your organization to do the same. While your organization has an established code of conduct, mission, and values that employees are aware of, it’s not enough to make a real impact. Incorporate daily conversations on the work environment, existing policies, and company changes. Ask your workforce how they’re doing, frequent discussions to get their feedback, and encourage them to bring up problems or hurdles they see in the workplace. Showing that you care about their day-to-day will increase trust, and you’re more likely to retain your top talent if you empower them to speak up while you listen.
Supporting employees empowers them to add value
Building a support system within a team is essential to empowering individuals. Many leaders often try to delegate authority and decision-making and ask for employee feedback on projects to empower them. Supporting your employees in their line of work will help them succeed and bring overall success to your organization. For example, arm them with the right tools and resources to strengthen their skill set, offer training to build their knowledge base, and give them autonomy on assignments.
Some leaders might hesitate to entirely give employees the freedom to lead, however without setting them up for success and setting expectations, they’re more likely to fail and thus, feeling less empowered. Actively check in with your employees to ensure they’re on the right track and provide guidance when necessary and avoid micro-managing. In addition, be open to their ideas. In 6 Proven Tools to Gain Team Engagement and Alignment, Julie Castro Abrams (How Women Lead) explains how her organization uses a framework to get feedback and fresh ideas from her team by popcorning ideas and writing them up on a whiteboard. She says,
“Sometimes people will popcorn an idea, and they don’t even vote for their own. This is a success! You avoid them feeling undervalued or a sense of needing to take up airtime explaining their viewpoint. Frameworks and tools like this are used to increase trust and engagement and a sense of transparency.”
Transparency, trust, and engagement are the foundation of building a support system in an organization.
Empowerment leads to a successful organization
Successful organizations empower their leadership. Leadership empowers their employees. When employees see their managers or leadership teams enabled in their work, employees are more likely to be influenced by that. Companies have realized that people are the most crucial asset to the organization’s success, and the more they feel empowered, the more likely they will add value. The same values you carry to your customers, such as trust, empathy, support, partnership, etc., should be given forward to your workforce. According to Gallup, organizations that empower their employees experience 50% higher customer loyalty, reducing the resources needed to retain customers. Therefore, achieving tangible business results faster.
Leaders can’t simply tell their employees they are “empowered.” It’s all about showing, not telling, and encouraging your workforce to go beyond their comfort zone. When you start to believe in your teams, they will believe in themselves and bring success to the company. To gain some best practices and tips on building healthier workplaces, check out our free resource center with tools, tips, and sheets to guide you on that journey.