Why Empowering Employees is Mission Critical

Back in the late 1980s many companies latched onto the emerging concept of empowering employees. For the next two decades, they hired countless training consultants to indoctrinate staff with the concept of empowerment as added responsibility and accountability.

The failure of those old initiatives is demonstrated by today’s high levels of employee dissatisfaction. Nearly eight of every 10 people who leave their jobs do so because they are unhappy with the environment in which they work and feel incapable of making a difference.  

People want to feel powerful. They yearn for it. In sales organizations – and those where employees directly engage with customers and clients – they need it to deliver exceptional customer service. However, merely telling people they need to feel empowered is relatively useless. Your employees can’t be powerful – nor will they be – until you make them powerful.

It’s not just a matter of making them powerful workers, but powerful people because it is impossible to separate the individual from the work. Teaching your employees to be powerful people will have a 360-degree effect. They will leave work feeling powerful and return even more so.

Business owners and senior managers are often baffled about what empowering employees actually entails. It means giving them the needed skills, resources, authority, opportunities and motivation to contribute to the overall success of the business. It means sharing information and rewards. And, it means holding them accountable for the outcomes of their actions.

This can be difficult in a business you’ve built from the ground up because no one is as invested as you are. You recall the travails along the road to success and you know the nuts and bolts of the operation perhaps better than anyone. Nonetheless, it is your responsibility to create a team of powerful people who will solve problems, create opportunities, increase productivity, and share the responsibility for beating the competition.

This does not require a shakeup in the organizational structure or culture. Studies show that people almost always want to do a good job, and they do best in an environment where they are trusted and have power over resources and processes. They succeed when you embrace the language of commitment and become a powerful communicator who can model desired behaviors. They thrive in an environment where people are encouraged to develop and broaden their skills.

Having powerful people on your team does not mean they have absolute authority to act unchecked. They are trusted to operate independently on a defined set of tasks based on their experience, expertise, and commitment to the organizations. They are expected to apply their know-how to achieve organizational goals.

This isn’t accomplished quickly or without effort. Employees must accept some responsibility themselves for becoming more powerful. You provide the support and encouragement, plus the training and tools for them to do their jobs well. The payoff is enormous. When your employees become powerful, there are countless new opportunities for your business to succeed.

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