Your business may have the best products, the most cutting-edge technology, and an unparalleled marketing plan, but what’s missing from this equation so that you can maximize your competitive advantage?
Every business relies on their employees to drive the customer experience.
When a team member feels empowered in the workplace, they can make a direct and positive impact on your sales, your customer service, and your bottom line.
But where does the empowerment come from?
Empowerment Is Not Given but Realized
What happens is when people hear “empowerment”, usually employees are waiting for management to deputize them with empowerment. But then folks in management will be scratching their heads, wondering why team members aren’t acting in empowered ways.
So everyone’s waiting for something to happen, but then nothing does! It can be a vicious cycle of disappointment for both parties.
Think of empowerment, instead, as the process of an individual enabling himself to take action and control work and decision making in autonomous ways. Empowerment comes from the individual. […] The work organization has the responsibility to remove barriers that limit the ability of staff to act in empowered ways. (The Balance)
So you must realize that your team members already come empowered. As a business owner, you may feel a pressure to do this somehow, but really–you do not have to empower them – you simply have to remove barriers.
And sometimes, one of the barriers to employee empowerment is management. Instead of getting out of the way and letting your team members shine, you may be micromanaging, or stifling creativity with being too authoritarian.
BUT getting out of the way doesn’t mean that you’re still not a leader, or that you should get rid of the hierarchy that’s in place.
What it does mean is your company is not going to be as top-down as you’re used to. Empowerment is really is about teamwork–in a more decentralized manner, but with clearly defined roles that people can rely on and be certain about.
So remember–you should think of empowerment as something to foster and nurture, not something that you give. And one way you can help foster empowerment in your employees is through boosting engagement.
An Empowered Employee Is an Engaged Employee
According to a recent survey, an employee’s belief that they can positively impact company performance is directly related to their level of engagement.
Over 66% of employees who feel “fully engaged” report that they can drive company quality, company cost and customer service. Compare this to “disengaged” employees, only 31% feel they can drive these key factors.
So what can we do to drive employee engagement? This has to be a part of the company culture and adopted at all levels. And company culture is created from the top–but remember, that doesn’t mean you’re barking orders or micromanaging. What it means is that you’re setting the tone and letting your expectations be known.
It doesn’t cost more to engage employees. You don’t have to go and purchase some employee empowerment program. Instead, it just involves new behaviors that recognize and reinforce the impact that our teams make every day.
Here are five tips to drive employee engagement in your workplace:
1. Engage your top performers by making them members of cross-functional teams that drive strategic initiatives that impact all areas of your business.
This is one great way to create leaders in your organization with on-the-job training without having to send your team members to some training.
2. Collect regular feedback from your team on how to strengthen your organization, and then act on these suggestions in a timely manner.
You can’t have your eyes everywhere in your business. And, you may have your own personal blind spots. Consider your team members as sentries along the walls of your business. They can be better positioned to tell you what’s working and what’s not working.
3. Implement a reward system for creativity and ingenuity in the workplace. Provide rewards and recognition when employees develop new ways to drive your business.
There are different kinds of reward systems you can use to help boost engagement. Rewards can be great motivators for enhancing performance. They’re also a great way to show that your employees are valued, that they aren’t just cogs in the wheels of your business.
4. Hold intimate gatherings with your employees, giving cross-functional teams the opportunity to get to know each other, share ideas, and increase teamwork across all departments.
It can be so easy to get siloed in a business, whether it’s by task or by department. But for a business to flourish, all team members are needed and necessary. Ingenious ideas could be hiding out in one department or with one team member. But if information is shared across departments, you could see your business easily transform without it costing you much time and money.
5. Connect your employees with your organization’s vision, mission, and objectives. Ensure they know how their roles tie into and impact your company’s performance.
If you aren’t into the idea of creating a formal vision or mission statement for your company, start with something simple and pick a company theme for the year.
Check out this article for more information on how to engage your team in this process. By engaging your team in this way, they will take more ownership of their work and of how your company performs.
The benefits of engaging your employees are huge: your team will be more productive, which saves you money. Your employees will follow you more easily as you need to pivot and create changes to improve your business. And, you’ll see a boost in customer service. All of these things will increase revenue, as well as your standing in the marketplace.
These five simple tips are small steps that you can take to drive employee engagement, which will drive your business forward.