Trust is a big issue in business. If employees do not trust leadership, problems ensue. If leadership doesn’t trust employees, micromanagement runs rampant. Priorities are shifted from what is really important to drive the business to what must be done to keep an eye on employees.
Trust is a powerful thing.
What I’ve found with trust between employer and employee is this. When an employee does not trust one (or all) of the leadership team it is because something happened to make them lose trust. Distrust in the reverse doesn’t always work this way. Often times the lack of trust from employer to employee is not due to losing trust after an event or series of events, but due to leadership style.
For whatever reason leaders in these environments feel they can not trust employees to make decisions or learn from mistakes. They tie new initiatives up in so much red tape that employees give up on trying anything innovative. Emails have to be copied to so many people just to make sure every single person is aware and has a say.
It is not an environment that fosters employee empowerment and they are missing out.
There are several benefits to employee empowerment. I want to share six with you today.
But first lets get a good working definition of employee empowerment. Employee empowerment is allowing employees to have control over their work. In an environment where this is encouraged, employees have input into how things get done. They are not only allowed, but encouraged to offer suggestions and encouraged to make mistakes as long as they learn from them.
Over and over we keep hearing about how employees want to feel connected to their work. How they want to feel like their contributions matter and impact the business as a whole. Empowering them in their work is a great way to help them feel as though what they are doing matters.
Quality of Work
Leaders who stipulate how work should be done stifle the creativity of their employees. They, often falsely, assume that they know the best way to get things done. Allowing employees input on how work gets done often increases the quality of that work. Employees in the trenches every day figure out ways to do the work better thus increasing the quality of work.
Quantity of Work
Much like quality of work, employees in the trenches not only figure out how to do things better, but often faster or more efficient. This efficiency can create chain reactions that permeate the entire company, one process after another. If you are looking for ways to streamline process and move work faster, empower your employees to change the way it is currently being done.
When leaders are not focused on micromanaging, they have more time to focus on initiatives that drive business growth. They are able to drop some of the day to day stuff that they should never have been doing in the first place but are because they didn’t trust anyone else to do it. They are able to be leaders and let the employees do the work and push for change when necessary.
Better Customer Interaction
Employees who feel like the work that they perform makes a difference are more likely to provide higher customer service. Whether their customers be external or internal, they will focus on their needs much more when they know that their portion of the work makes a difference and their contributions are trusted and appreciated.
You can allow one or two people to come up with new ideas because you don’t trust anyone else to do it or you can encourage everyone to do so. Employees may have the answers the leadership team has been struggling to come up with. Employees may have the idea for the next big thing. To stay ahead, all businesses need innovation and empowering all employees to offer ideas will increase the likelihood of innovation actually happening.
For years now the benefits of employee satisfaction have been touted over and over. Satisfied employees stick around. Plain and simple. Employees who feel like they own their work and are more than cogs in a wheel are more loyal and tend to have longer tenure. Employees who stick around help lower turnover and recruiting costs and raise the intellectual capital of a business.
Employee empowerment is a leadership tactic designed to create more productive and more satisfied workplaces. It only works when leaders are willing to let go a little and let employees own their work. When employees truly feel empowered and embrace that, companies can see great lifts across the board.
Are your processes stifling employees ability to control their work? Do you wrap employees up in so much red tape that they are unable to make a true difference? Take an honest look at what you are doing and ask yourself whether your employees have proven that they can not be trusted or whether you may need to let go. Doing so may help your business thrive in ways you couldn’t imagine.
To read the orginial blog post, click here.