In the rush of day-to-day operations, it’s easy to lose sight of factors that encourage fresh thinking from the people who know the business best—your employees. Many employees have the potential to grow and become leaders, another plus for your business.
Seven Ways to Empower Your Employees to Become Leaders
1. Listen to what employees say. When employees raise an issue relating to business processes or customer service, management should listen and take action on these issues. When employees see those issues addressed, they’ll continue making useful suggestions.“Soon these employees will become leaders in the workplace because they know the organization values their contributions,” says Josh Tolan of Spark Hire.
2. Encourage thinking that takes risks. It’s vital to create a culture where employees feel confident it’s OK to ask questions, suggest out-of-the-box ideas, and even take actions that might fail. “Out of that failure will come knowledge and longer-term success,” says Lynne Dixon, Hourly.com.
3. Deploy clarity and trust. A company that seeks to empower its workforce must provide clarity to ensure employee actions are aligned with business goals. It must also work to establish trust with employees. “Clarity without trust produces inaction,” says Adam Robinson, CEO of Hireology. “Trust without clarity produces wasted effort.”
4. Establish and enforce strong workplace policies. When clear-cut, enforceable policies are in place, there’s no longer a need for micromanagement. “Workplace policies give employees the parameters they need to be creative, productive, successful, and happy at work,” says Clara Lippert Glenn, president and CEO of The Oxford Princeton Programme.
5. Create an inclusive workplace. Do you see leadership potential in your employees? If so, encourage them to offer their opinions and insights—and show you value their input. In a more inclusive environment, employees can grow as leaders. Such an environment “acts not only as a resource for management to help grow business, but also to promote employee growth as well,” says Shirley Engelmeier, CEO of Inclusion/INC. “Everyone wins!”
6. Make it OK to fail. In a more traditional workplace environment, employees believe if they take risks and fail, they’ll soon be out of a job. Empower employees so they know they have authority to fail. “Risk takers, by definition, gain followers—when successful—and having followers it’s the definition of a leader,” says Bruce Hurwitz of Hurwitz Strategic Staffing.
7. Lead with a sense of balance. In an empowered work environment, success is a journey, not the destination. Management leads with a sense of balance—“giving challenges but offering support; accepting failure but holding individuals accountable for success; and trusting their people while expecting respect in return,” says Russell Schramm, vice president of talent acquisition for the Americas, Philips.
These CEOs and top executives agree: Empower your employees and your business will quickly overtake its competitors and gain a stronger foothold in the marketplace.
How do you empower your employees?