Do you love your job, or do you get heartburn Sunday night, knowing that Monday is coming soon? Either way, why is this? Of course there are dozens of factors involved in why we are, or are not, satisfied in our jobs, and one of them is empowerment. According to Wikipedia, ’empowerment refers to measures designed to increase the degree of autonomy and self-determination in people and in communities in order to enable them to represent their interests in a responsible and self-determined way, acting on their own authority.’ This is huge. Empowered employees are generally effective and satisfied employees. So how can you empower your employees to work more effectively, produce better results, and ultimately be happier in their jobs? Here are four ideas.
A lunch-and-learn is basically a group of people getting together over lunch to learn about a new topic or skill, brainstorm new ideas, or maybe even hash out a problem. Perhaps you offer this at your company already. Many employees are incented to present on a particular topic of their choosing. But lunch-and-learns can be even more effective if managers are consistently looking for ways their employees excel and asking them to share them with others. So not only is knowledge transfer happening, but the employee who is asked to share is recognized for their contributions, and feels empowered and valued. Oh, and don’t forget to buy everyone lunch (another important principle).
Establish a mentorship program:
Formal training development programs are effective and necessary, but so much learning happens on the job. Establishing a mentorship program where skilled, experienced employees train new hires or less experienced personnel has so many benefits. New hires are receiving coaching and support from those on the front-line who know on a daily basis what the terrain is like. In addition, and perhaps more importantly, the mentor is empowered to share what they know and pour into someone else. This creates feelings of self-worth and value, two key characteristics of an empowered individual. The best way to learn is to teach. Therefore, both parties are growing and learning, and far less training material needs to be maintained!
Involve employees in goal setting and planning:
When possible, involve employees in goal setting and planning. Employees can add a different dimension of values, knowledge, ideas, insight and experience that you won’t likely find on your executive team. In addition, involve them in goal setting. With the help of your employees, work on measurable and observable goals that everyone agrees on or at least accepts. When employees are involved in planning and goal setting, the expectations and targets are clear and they can then chart their own course without close supervision.
Consistently express appreciation and give rewards to people:
When people feel truly appreciated, they are usually eager to take on additional responsibilities and work towards helping the company to succeed. Make it a habit to thank people. This could be as simple as a handwritten note or a big celebration for a job well done. My boss is a master at recognizing special events, such as birthdays and anniversaries, and asking about our kids. Give rewards when appropriate. This shows employees that you value them, which will make them eager to go the extra mile and feel empowered to do so.
If you’re out of ideas, then sit down with each member of your team and ask them what types of experiences would help them grow professionally and make them feel empowered. You might be surprised by their answers. After all, it’s no secret that people are motivated by far more than just a paycheck.