EQ WORKOUT #79 How Does a Leader Empower Employees?

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Empowered employees tend not to leave their workplace. Empowerment is actually a key source of employee engagement and retention. So how can leaders empower their employees? And why is it so important?

The research shows us that empowerment allows employees to feel more control over their work, which increases engagement and, therefore, retention at a job.

There are three different cultures that help foster empowerment in the workplace: the culture of mistakes, the culture of communication, and the culture of delegation.

Three Cultures that Help Empower Employees at Work

To have a team of empowered employees leaders need to be intentional in what kind of workplace culture they are creating. Here are three areas for leaders to focus on and build a strong culture around that will empower employees.

1. Culture of mistakes

Every company has a culture of mistakes, even if it’s not known or conscious. The reality is that humans are, well, human—there’s going to be mistaken! So, how does the workplace handle mistakes? Here are a few questions to consider:

  • What kind of mistakes is being made?
  • Is there an open conversation about mistakes?
  • What’s the “fall-out” of the mistake? Is it to shame the employee or used as a learning opportunity?

Mistakes are an opportunity to learn. Instead of focusing only on what went wrong, you can shed a light on what needs to happen next. When employees feel comfortable and okay to make mistakes, they will learn and grow.

  • The big question: What is my message around mistakes?

2. Culture of communication

A lot of companies like to describe themselves as open and transparent. But does that really reflect in how they operate day-to-day? Companies need to be intentional about building a strong culture of communication, where employees know what’s going on.

Open communication leads to better decision-making in the workplace because everyone is equipped with what they need to know to do their best work. Open communication also means access to a leader or manager with that knowledge. Instead of having an “open door policy” (impossible to live up to!), leaders can communicate clearly when they’re available for questions and discussions so employees know how they can be accessed.

  • The big question: What is the messaging you’re giving around communication? Are you transparent and open so when people come to you, you are available to communicate?

3. Culture of delegation

This is one of the top ways leaders can empower employees. By delegating work to employees, you are allowing them to develop and grow in that specific area.

Many leaders resist opportunities to delegate. The biggest reason is that most leaders feel that they can do things better and quicker themselves. And that might be true! But if you can accept that delegation is not a time-saver in the beginning you can learn to pass over work and empower employees, which pays off down the road.

Delegation is not a one-time thing. Leaders should delegate work, allow the employee to do it and make mistakes, provide feedback, and delegate again—it’s an ongoing cycle of delegation, feedback, and learning. Over time, you are empowering your employees through this delegation cycle.

  • The big question: Are you prepared to go through the cycle of delegation, feedback, and learning in order to empower your employees?

Many leaders are looking for the magic bullet for employee engagement and retention. Empowerment comes pretty close to being that thing that makes all the difference! When employees feel empowered in their workplace, they will be highly engaged in their work, strive to improve and grow and stick around much longer in a role.