Where does power lie within your organization? The most successful business leaders know that empowering employees should happen at every level. To some, that may seem counter-intuitive, or even chaotic. But conferring power opens doors. If it isn’t universal, the concept can easily short-circuit, leaving some to feel like “have-nots” within your workforce.
Everyone needs to feel included
In order to achieve that, every employee must be given some amount of power, because power is ability — to think, create and decide. Sharing that ability starts with the most powerful position in your company, the top echelon of corporate leadership.
This is important for two reasons. Delegating authority as well as tasks tends to be a downward-flowing process. And demonstrations of empowerment that come from the top send a consistent message throughout your entire company. We all have power because it takes all of us working together to grow our business .
Every job is important, essential to the company’s success. If that weren’t the case, why would that job exist in the first place? Since every job is vital, every job-holder is important to the company’s success. You hired them to contribute. Empowering people to contribute more broadly brings more brainpower, more creative styles and more skills to the table. That produces better – sometimes unexpected and truly sensational – results.
Empowerment increases a person’s sense of connection with your company and with their co-workers. But certain factors must be present for the process of empowerment to be truly effective.
Regardless how much or what type of power is granted any particular individual, success requires communicating clear goals and expectations. Study after study has confirmed that employees feel more valuable and appreciated when they understand how their work affects the company’s big picture. They are more motivated.
Expectations include parameters if power comes in the form of decision-making authority. That way, employees know how much latitude they have to move forward on their own, especially when interacting with vendors, customers or other external contacts.
But empowerment is about more than enabling people to contribute at a higher level. It’s also about collaboration. That requires listening as well as expressing oneself. Learning to listen – to respect and embrace the process of including others – teaches the power of compromise. It boosts communication skills and promotes sharing of credit as well as ideas.
Tools to wield power effectively
Training is foundational to every employee’s success. Equipping your people with the right tools, knowledge and resources to pursue job-related and personal development makes them more valuable employees. And, once again, it’s a significant motivator. Companies that offer ongoing training are viewed as more desirable places to work because it’s obvious they view their employees as worth ongoing investment.
Some employers fear that money and time spent on training is wasted because it inevitably leads to turnover. If you help people become “better and brighter,” you’re simply preparing them to find better jobs elsewhere. But the reality is this: if your company offers credible advancement-from-within opportunities, why would employees automatically leave? And even if they do move on, wouldn’t you rather get the most from each individual while they’re still part of your team?
The fact that empowerment should happen at every level within your company doesn’t make it a “right.” It is a privilege. And it comes in the form of personal responsibility. When everyone in your organization understands and accepts that, they can use their power to help your company grow and thrive so you can achieve great things.