Empowered employees are happy employees? I believe it. The other day, I was talking with a guy I know who works as an attorney for a large healthcare organization. I asked him how his job was going and he said “Great! It’s the best job I’ve ever had.” “Why’s that?” I asked. He said “Because my manager is the best boss I’ve ever had.” Again, I was curious to know why. “Because he gives me the autonomy to do my job”, he answered.
Autonomy to do the job they were hired to do is what most employees want. In other words, they want to be empowered to do what they were hired to do. Empowered employees are also what most managers want. Unfortunately, this isn’t what’s actually happening. The reply I got from my friend is rare.
This is another common disconnect in the workplace between managers and employees. When a disconnect occurs about how empowered an employee feels it almost always comes down to miscommunication about job expectations. When employees know what the result should be and the time period in which the results need to be completed, they can be left to get the job done without a lot of micro-managing. They have been empowered to do their work.
As a leader, what can you do to create an environment that empowers people and sets them up for success? Here are three tips:
Set clear expectations
One common reason leaders micro-manage is that they haven’t taken the crucial step of identifying and communicating job expectations. When job expectations aren’t clear the manager cannot empower employees, they have to be involved every step along the way because they haven’t thought about what they want.
If an employee knows what needs to be done and when it needs to be done, empower them to get it done without questioning how they are getting it done.
I recently messed up in this area. I hired a videographer to record a keynote I was giving at a conference to a group of 450 attendees. I specifically asked for a 2-camera shoot, which is what I got but both angles were closeups of me. Not what I was expecting. I realized I hadn’t specifically asked for what I really wanted which was wide shots of the whole audience. I should have said that I wanted close-ups of me and wide-angle views of the whole audience and empowered the expert to figure out how to make it happen. My bad.
Give employees a gift that keeps on giving – feedback. When the employee has been empowered and the task has been completed satisfactorily be sure to let them know. Positive reinforcement reinforces positive behavior. A Gallup survey revealed that 28% of employees said recognition is most memorable when it comes from their direct manager.
If the task wasn’t completed as expected, be sure to let them know that too and be clear about where it missed the mark. No one wants to fail and most employees wouldn’t fail on purpose and would want to know where they could improve. If the task wasn’t done correctly, first look at yourself to see if you were clear about the expectations. In my own example above, it wasn’t the videographer’s fault. I wasn’t clear.
Always treat your employees the way you want them to treat your best customers. – Steven Covey
Stay in touch on a regular basis by scheduling one-on-one meetings to get status updates. Some leaders schedule these meetings but then cancel them at the last minute when something seemingly more important comes up. Don’t fall into that trap. There is nothing more important than giving your employees your time. A leader who continuously cancels or reschedules one-on-one meetings gives the perception that the employee really isn’t that important. You wouldn’t want your team treating your best customers that way, would you?
Follow these three guidelines to create an environment where your team is empowered to do their work. This will build trust and creating a more motivated team that wants to stick with you for the long-term. Empowered employees are happy employees!
Liz Uram helps leaders get better results through clear communication. Check out the Smart Leader System to see how you can start getting better results now!