Empowerment is the sum of the resources given to an employee in order for them to do their job and achieve the desired outcome of their role. Empowerment comes in the form of training, communication, feedback, some degree of autonomy, and sometimes budget.
What can a manager do to ensure an employee is empowered?
1. Make sure there’s a job description in place.
A typical job description includes basic information like
an overview of the role
tasks which the employee is responsible for
necessary skills and/or education
These basic components are critical to alignment between employee and employer. Too often, there are miscommunications that drive dissatisfaction or the perception of poor performance. Having a written, agreed upon document in place can prevent these misconceptions that cause big issues, waste time, and waste money.
Done well, the job description becomes a Role Blueprint which can be used as a foundation for one-on-one discussions, goal check-ins, and performance reviews.
2. Provide adequate training for the role
Training can take many forms, and you should choose the format that works best for the role. Some roles, of course, require very specialized training. For those that don’t, training doesn’t have to be perfect at the beginning, as long as it improves over time. Leave the door open for your team to ask for additional training.
If you’re starting from scratch, here is a list of starting points that are easily achievable:
A process checklist - you can use google sheets, Asana, Trello, or any other method you’d like
A list of tools needed to perform the job, and access for each
A list of metrics, dashboards, and KPI’s pertaining to the role
Invitations to recurring meetings, including 1:1’s, team meetings, project updates, etc.
Contact list for vendors and stakeholders
daily/weekly/monthly task and process list
3. Give access to resources/people within the company
Welcoming a new employee serves a few important functions.
First, it sets the tone for the new team member to feel like the team is happy they’ve joined. This kicks off employee engagement.
Secondly, it is a great opportunity to ensure key stakeholders in the organization are prepared to dedicate an appropriate amount of time to working with the new employee.
Whether just to build a relationship, or to update or continue a project, it’s important to make sure your new team member has booked time with the individuals they’ll be working with on a regular basis.
Finally, it is a great opportunity to inspire and communicate the mission, vision and values of the organization.
While an organization is small, this is often accomplished through a quick introductory meeting with one or more members of senior leadership, and goes a long way to ensuring the team member feels welcome and is excited to give their best to the company.
4. Provide adequate understanding of the expectations of the manager and company.
Most people need to hear new information several times before fully understanding.
The same is true with your employees.
Think back to your first day or week at a new company. You were probably jittery, or at least felt like you were “drinking from a firehose” of new information.
It’s not possible to absorb, process, and implement all the new information you heard.
The same is true of those you’re bringing in.
They’re new to the role, maybe the company or even the industry.
There is an adjustment period, and it isn’t enough to verbally (or even in writing) communicate something once and assume the employee absorbed and processed the information.
When you’re conveying expectations of the role, it’s important to ask questions to confirm understanding, and continue this process throughout the onboarding and adjustment period.
5. Give visibility to the outcome of their role
If you’re empowering someone to set appointments, make sales, retain customers, build products, etc., the employee needs to have access to information about the results of their efforts.
This can be as simple as access to a tool used by the company, or reporting from other parts of the organization (like financial performance on a monthly P&L).
The employee needs feedback about their results as soon as possible.
6. Allow some degree of autonomy in their work.
No one wants to feel like a cog in a machine.
All team members have some desire to contribute, make decisions and be creative in their role.
Obviously, this is easier for a designer than a pilot, but nonetheless, autonomy (at an appropriate level) is a big part of feeling empowered to achieve results.
Autonomy improves satisfaction and fulfillment, and is a primary ingredient for determination.
Think of autonomy as the opposite of micromanagement.
Autonomy increases productivity and engagement, and is the core component of empowerment.
Managers have tremendous influence over the level of empowerment for their teams, which translates to a greater sense of purpose and ownership. There is so much a manager can do to ensure their team is set up for success. Empowering their team to be successful is one of the most important functions of a manager.
Here are a few survey questions you can use to ensure your team feels empowered to do their jobs, and look for areas of improvement.
Employee Survey Questions for Empowerment:
How comfortable are you making decisions and solving problems in your role?
Do you have all the tools and resources needed to perform your job?
Do you know what success looks like for your role? For our team?
What metrics do you influence?
What other things can a manager do to set up their team for success? Let us know what we’ve missed!