Management and leadership responsibilities can weigh heavily on executive shoulders. The more senior you are, the more you are held accountable for the company’s performance. Regardless of the business sector in which you operate, there are targets to hit, problems to solve, solutions to deliver, all the while managing timescales and budgets. In order to achieve your business objectives, it’s essential that the team works together smoothly and effectively.
Empowering the team is one of the smartest things a leader can do. Even better, if it can be replicated throughout the company so that the benefits can be felt by everyone. Genuine empowerment is a win/win/win situation. Leaders learn to delegate effectively, allowing them to refocus their attention where it counts. Employees become engaged and motivated to perform above and beyond, and company performance reaps huge benefits as a result.
When we talk about empowerment, we mean unlocking the potential of team members at every level. It’s about creating the right workplace culture where individuals are free to voice opinions, experiment and take action. It’s about creating a framework in which people feel safe to contribute, knowing their efforts are fully supported and truly valued.
Here are ten empowerment tips that every leader should practice on a daily basis:
1. Building trust
A team without trust is a handicapped team. It doesn’t matter how skilled or experienced people are, they are unlikely to reach their full potential in terms of innovation, collaboration, creative thinking, and productivity, if they feel they have to keep watching their back. As a leader, it’s up to you to show your staff that they have your trust. Delegate responsibilities and give your team members ‘freedom within a framework’, establishing adaptable parameters that give a sense of control and ownership.
2. Communicating clear goals
As a manager and team leader, it is your chief responsibility to share the vision, convey the objectives, define the roles, and set clear expectations for everyone involved. A successful team must be on the same page, with a unified purpose and focus, for it to perform at its peak. If employees are not clear about what they are supposed to be doing, it is little wonder that they won’t be able to accomplish what’s required. Whether your team is office-based or working remotely, effective communication is key.
3. Encouraging self-improvement
Mentoring programs, continuing education, professional development, and enrichment opportunities are different ways that your team members can be supported to learn new skills. Actively invest in the career potential and personal growth of your employees and give them the tools to become more knowledgeable. Allowing individuals to leave early once a week, for instance, for choir practice or to obtain a vocational qualification will do wonders for their wellbeing, work ethic, and company loyalty.
4. Making time to chat
Regular catch-ups with your team members are essential for building strong bonds. Make a habit of having one-to-one chats every week/month, whether in the office, in the canteen or at the local coffee shop. Make a point of asking them how they’re getting on in their job but also take an interest in their personal life. Showing that you really care about your employee’s wellbeing makes them feel valued as individuals which, in turn, leads to a more congenial and productive office environment.
5. Having an open-door policy
Approachable managers welcome input from their team members, and the best way to encourage them to voice their opinions is to keep your office door open, literally. Implemented successfully and within a workable framework, this is a simple yet powerful gesture that communicates your commitment to listening to ideas and suggestions coming from your team. Everyone feels empowered to step forward and play an active part in the company.
6. Sharing, not just delegating
Delegating work tasks is one thing, but communication shouldn’t stop there – it’s not a single track exercise. Include team members in important meetings, perhaps asking someone to give a presentation or take the lead on occasion. Share client contact and project successes, and praise individual team members’ efforts beyond the immediate team. Empowerment is a multifaceted concept aimed at demonstrating to employees that they have a real effect on the business.
7. Promoting out-of-the-box thinking
The freedom to think creatively comes from a sense of safety and validation. Empower your team to think of innovative, different ways to approach problems and trust the minds around you to come up with and share business solutions that may be a much better way to do things. They do say that teamwork makes the dream work, so give them the opportunity for some left-field thinking.
8. Being flexible and compassionate
In many workplace scenarios, work does not necessarily have to happen between 9 am and 5 pm. Everyone has personal commitments that don’t always dovetail with traditional office hours, and employers need to recognize and sympathize with the juggling act that many employees are having to undergo on a daily basis. There are many flexible working options that could square the circle including flexible hours and Working From Home (WFH) arrangements that may lead to improved productivity and greater wellbeing among your staff.
9. Insisting on time off work
Rest and relaxation is an essential part of a balanced working life. As a manager, it is your responsibility to actively ensure that every team member has sufficient time off to recharge their batteries. Vigilantly guard against toxic work cultures based on presenteeism and macho working practices, and look out for early signs of burnout among your team members. Productivity and performance depend on a healthy work-life balance.
10. Showing gratitude
Finally, don’t forget to say thank you for a job well done. Everyone likes to be praised for their efforts and there’s nothing like a pat on the back to put a smile on someone’s face and a spring in their step. Showing your appreciation can take many forms, from team awards to social outings, extra time off, or financial rewards. One thing is certain, team members who feel valued and appreciated in their job will not only continue to achieve, they will happily stay on for the long term.
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