On a recent visit to the London head office of GE, a poster on a wall caught my eye. It listed five important Beliefs and one of them was to ‘Empower and Inspire each other’. Organisations with an empowering and coaching style are healthier and perform better. Being empowered is the feeling of being trusted, valued and in control of one’s own destiny. Here are my top five tips on how to empower people – Take 5!
1.Share Leadership vision. People want to feel that they are part of something bigger than themselves and their individual role. Make sure they are aware of and understand the organisation’s overall vision, and strategic plans. Agree and set clear goals and deliverables with your team so they know the part they have to play in making that vision a reality.
2. Delegate. You can’t and should not do everything. Don’t just hand over the mundane tasks, but delegate authority and opportunities to allow your people to grow and make an impact. Good leaders are happy to release power. Levels of delegation will depend on the experience and maturity of your team. Work with your more experienced staff to coach and mentor those who need support with challenging new responsibilities.
3. Praise them! Recognise and, where possible, reward achievement. Do this not just at formal appraisal time but every day with genuine positive comments. Many employees rarely get a simple thank you for doing a great job day in day out. Recognition and showing respect makes the workplace much happier. Catch people doing things right!
4.Ask Questions. Ask, listen and learn – don’t always tell people what to do. Ask them ‘What can we do differently and better?’. Connect on an emotional level and ask them how they feel about things. Good leaders are happy to hear what they are not happy to hear! Ask the people and their views, and the strategies will follow.
5. Provide information and feedback. Give employees all the information they need to make the best possible decisions. Communicate clearly and often. Don’t hoard information. Give honest and regular feedback. This all builds trust. They will then focus their energy on accomplishing, not on wondering, worrying, and second-guessing how well they are doing or what’s going on in the business.
Empowerment is essentially about showing that you value and trust your people. It is about trusting their intentions to do the right thing. It is about showing you genuinely care about them during difficult as well as good times. Empowered individuals respond with positivity and discretionary energy, that extra effort that people voluntarily invest in work.
“People want guidance, not rhetoric. They need to know what the plan of action is and how it will be implemented. They want to be given responsibility to help solve the problem and the authority to act on it.” Howard Schultz, Starbucks
Look out for future Take 5! Tips on Leadership and Communication skills.
Peter Dunkin. Leadership Coach and NLP Practitioner.