Recent research shows that a large percentage of employees believe empowerment in the workplace is essential. But how often do you empower employees as a leader within the workplace?
Empowerment can have a significant impact on many aspects of the workforce. Empowering employees encourages them to try new ways of doing things, learn new skills, and share their thoughts and ideas openly, without fear of judgement or worrying about the consequences should something not go quite well. When you empower employees as a leader, you also have the opportunity to increase trust within the workplace.
But empowering employees can be tricky, especially if you’re new to your role as a leader or are working with new employees for the first time. But the key here is to learn what works best for them – and you.
If you’re hoping to foster a culture of trust, empowerment, and learning, we share how to empower employees as a leader with professional guidance and advice from our Director of Coaching and Learning, Ian White, in this blog.
The Benefits Associated With Empowerment in the Workplace
Empowering employees comes hand in hand with a host of benefits. As shared above, employees who feel empowered are more likely to be open to new ways of doing things.
They’re also more likely to adopt a growth mindset instead of a fixed mindset and share their ideas with their peers, managers, and stakeholders. Not only can this present more opportunities for employees, but it can also benefit the organisation and broader leadership team.
But that’s not all. Additional benefits of empowering employees include:
Improved decision-making skills
When we empower employees, we show them that we trust them to make decisions, regardless of whether we know what the outcomes will be. Not only does this offer employees the opportunity to consider what they think is in the organisation's best interest, but it enhances their decision-making skills.
Although mistakes are inevitable, empowering people to try new solutions or test new waters can support them in learning what could have gone better and what they would do differently next time. Empowering employees also shares that mistakes shouldn’t be viewed as just that.
Instead, mistakes can be viewed as a learning curve when something doesn't go to plan. For most, this reduces how daunting making decisions can be. It can also support the reduction of overthinking in the workplace.
Empowering employees encourages them to take on new challenges, make decisions (as shared above), and solve problems independently. Often, doing so can support employees in developing new skills they may not have otherwise had the opportunity to develop.
With People Management sharing that three-quarters of employees want to learn new skills, this doesn’t just benefit the organisation. It also benefits the employees’ careers and futures.
Better employee retention
Amongst many other factors, such as well-being in the workplace, empowerment significantly impacts employee retention. In fact, numerous studies and reports show that when leaders empower their people, they’re more likely to retain their top talent.
Simply put, empowering employees shows them that you trust them. In addition, empowerment supports us in feeling valued and appreciated. When we feel trusted, valued, and appreciated, our loyalty increases, as does our commitment to our role and organisation.
Stronger teamwork and collaboration
When we encourage employees to take ownership and create a psychologically safe workplace where they can openly communicate their thoughts with others, we can strengthen teamwork and collaboration.
By empowering ownership and accountability, everyone will know they play a vital role within the team. This will see them feeling valued, appreciated, and ready to work independently and cohesively with other members to achieve goals. Strong teamwork and collaboration also support leaders in navigating workplace conflict and creating trust and openness at work.
How To Empower Employees – 6 Tips To Get Started With
Now we know some of the benefits of empowering employees, Ian shares some tips for how to empower employees as a leader below.
Base your leadership on trust
As Ian shares, it can be easy to fall into accepting ‘just enough’ trust to get by. Some teams even function with low levels of trust. However, lower levels of trust lead to miscommunication, suspicion, a lack of commitment, awkwardness, and increased monitoring. All of this takes away empowerment and requires the leader to make most of the decisions.
However, when leaders base their leadership on trust, they intentionally direct activities, agendas, and processes to build trust - we don’t leave trust to build by accident.
With trust-centred leadership, we also set high standards for levels of trust within teams and challenge behaviours that erode trust.
Unlike delegation of tasks, distributed leadership shares power and gives authority for decision-making for leadership roles that would have historically been the leader's sole responsibility.
Why is this important? In the current climate, a one-person leadership model is becoming less productive, or even possible, due to the complex adaptive organisations and systems we operate in. This is why many organisations are looking for support on how to empower employees.
Modern leadership skills mirror and significantly overlap with a coaching approach leadership style. For empowerment, we need to move away from instruction and towards coaching and mentoring.
Coaching means that there is autonomy, motivation, commitment, trust, and accountability instead of judgement, criticism, and blame.
Be in adult-to-adult ego states
When we consider Transactional Analysis, there is an awareness that relationships are at a peer level where both parties take responsibility, give and receive feedback, and have robust conversations about the important things that matter.
As a leader, we seek these peer relationships with everyone on the team and the mutual respect it brings.
Create high levels of peer accountability
One of the effects of high trust is that we believe everyone’s intentions are good. That, in turn, means that we can hold each other to high levels of accountability without causing harm.
With more empowerment comes less monitoring and micro-managing and robust accountability through a coaching style.
Create Belonging through Diversity and Equity
It is very important to be able to work with people who are not like us. So, as you turn your thoughts to how to empower employees, consider the following:
What are we doing to empower people who are more introverted?
How will accountability and team members differ when we empower people who are more introverted?
How does this apply to people who are neurodivergent?
What is the impact of noise, or ‘thinking-on-the-spot’ for some team members?
Empowerment is different for everyone, and to bring the best out in people through empowerment, we need to educate ourselves and create a culture that removes barriers to belonging.
From creating high levels of peer accountability to creating belonging through diversity and equity and coaching employees to distributing leaders, when it comes to considering how to empower employees, there are various things we can do as leaders.
For additional support, one-to-one leadership and team coaching can be highly beneficial. At The Leadership Coaches, our purpose is to help organisations create environments where their people can thrive. Our team of credible coaches are passionate about all they do.
Whether you’d like to find out more about how we can support you in empowering your employees or our services, chat with us live today or email firstname.lastname@example.org.