At a time when there is increased emphasis on survival and competitiveness, empowering workforces to optimise employee output is regarded as crucial.
Here are six tips and six lessons we have experienced in the work place.
Tip one: Encourage individual responsibility and accountability
The single, most important tip for empowering your workforce is to have everyone take full responsibility for their work and total control of their job, what they do and their contribution to the company. People should be allowed to take risks, responsibility and decisions related to their work.
Lesson one: Victim language and the ‘blame game’ must be eliminated to allow everyone to take full responsibility
Phrases such as ‘I can’t’, ‘I’ll try’ and ‘it’s not my fault’ must be replaced with a ‘can do’ attitude, Many owner-managers have difficulty in delegating and focusing on tangible results. Getting bogged down with doing work that could be delegated is counter-productive, “If you give people responsibility, usually they will reward you.”
Tip two: Chart your course
Know where the ‘big ship’ is going by having a clear vision for the company, which brings clarity and focus, This clarity gives employees a sense of belonging to a promising future. Establish your long-term vision, coupled with your short-term strategy to bring about success.
Lesson two: Companies without clear vision, purpose and direction flounder and waste time, money and resources
If you don’t know where you are going as leader, your team cannot follow. Don’t get too caught up in the operational aspects of your business to the detriment of the longer term vision. Stay strategic and big picture.
Tip three: Recruit the right people
Get the right people on board. In his book Good to Great, Jim Collins states that if you have the right people on the bus, the problem of how to motivate and manage them largely goes away.
Lesson three: If you have the wrong people in your company or have people in the wrong positions, empowerment will not work
Ask yourself the question: ‘Knowing what I now know about that person, would I still hire him or her?’ If your answer is no, you owe it to the employee, yourself and the company to bring closure to that relationship. If the answer is yes, you owe it to the individual and company to empower that individual to succeed and make a valuable contribution.
Too many companies hire in haste, only to regret making wrong decisions down the road. Follow a systematic, competency based recruitment plan and when you hire the right people, don’t abandon them. Develop, empower and reward them with lots of responsibility and accountability.
Tip four: Think training
Help employees to build their confidence levels to recognise their ability and intelligence and, where possible, give credit for non-formal training.
Lesson four: Just because you train people doesn’t mean they will leave
Consider what happens if they don’t train and staff stay with you. Even if someone does training that is unrelated to their job, it will still help motivate them and you don’t know when you might need to tap into that.
Tip five: Be prepared to change
Lead and manage your company through the changes necessary for future growth, results and profitability.
Lesson five: Far too often, companies fall into a comfort zone and don’t make the changes necessary to help them stay in control of their business
Change when you have a chance of winning or one day you may be forced to change when you have no chance of winning. Don’t get caught with your head in the sand.
Tip six: Develop a system of open, honest communications
People like to be ‘kept in the know’ of what’s going on and what the strategy is for the business. People will feel more empowered, motivated and committed when there is an open line of communications between everyone. Remember, your company’s brainpower is what makes it different.
Lesson six: Too often the lines of communication are blurred, which leads to a lack of commitment and poorer performance, resulting in reduced productivity
We recommend you as manager constantly ask yourself: ‘What is the right thing to do in this situation?’ Once you identify the right action, have the courage to act boldly, make the decisions and take the actions necessary to empower you and your workforce to do the right thing for the business.