What happens to your small business when you’re away from the office? Even with your ability to be available anywhere at any time with today’s mobile devices; there are situations when you can’t take a call – even hands free with a headset — or check your text or email. If you are confident that while you’re unreachable, your employees know what you’d like them to do and act accordingly; you’ve done a good job of delegating responsibilities. But is that enough? Do you have a team that is ready to step in and decide on their own how to resolve an issue, if necessary? In other words, is your team empowered?
Empowerment is a word that you hear often these days. That’s because many companies have come to realize that in order to build employee leadership skills to move the organization to the next level, they need to do more than delegate responsibility. They need to give employees the power to make important decisions and act on their own, as long as it’s within the boundaries of the company’s values and goals.
Why empowering your employees matters
There are many benefits to empowering your employees, not the least of which is increasing their satisfaction as a member of your team. Empowerment also aids productivity, since your employees, who are involved in the tactical aspects of running your small business, often have the best ideas on how to boost productivity as well as reduce costs. Consider how empowering it would be to your team if you asked them for suggestions to cuts costs and streamline operations.
Empowering your employees also improves customer service. Empowered employees have the confidence and authority to make decisions on the spot, which can mean the difference between keeping a customer or losing one or resolving a problem in such a way that gains customer loyalty. Empowered employees are more inclined to do what’s in the best interest of the customer even if it means deviating from the company rules a bit.
Empowered employees also can be a great antidote for complacency. An environment in which employees are confident about expressing their ideas can take your small business in directions you may not have considered.
Take steps empower your team
Listen: Make sure your team knows that they are being heard and that you value and respect their input.
Instill trust: Convey confidence in your team’s ability to make the right decisions. Set guidelines – for example, how much to adjust a bill or negotiate with a vendor – and then let your team make decisions within your parameters without having to get approvals. Be clear that it’s OK to take risks and failure can be an option if it’s a learning experience.
Encourage independent thinking: Encourage questions and invite ideas about doing things in new ways or new things to do.
Recognize success: Show your appreciation for a great idea and a job well. Consider some type of reward as well as company recognition.
Do you work at empowering your team? What steps have you taken?
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