Empowering Your Team Should Be a Top Priority. Here's How to Start.
It's no easy feat to create an empowered team, but it's crucial for your organization's growth. Here are some ways managers can empower their employees to take charge.
As a manager, it is important to not only lead your team to overall success, but to inspire each member to reach their own personal successes. By inspiring your team, you provide employees with the opportunity to reach their full potential while also cultivating a stronger work environment. This is not only crucial for your employees, but necessary for your organization's growth. So, what are some ways managers can look to empower their employees to take charge?
Start with crafting a supportive, healthy environment
When managing a team, it can sometimes be hard to let go of the reins and let your employees take the lead. We can get stuck in an "if you want it done right, do it yourself" mentality. However, by giving individuals the opportunity to learn new tasks, your entire team will benefit in the long run (and you'll avoid the risk of burnout from trying to do it all yourself). This is where building trust becomes crucial.
Managers need to trust that there are many ways to get to the same destination. It is important to share with your team what you would like to achieve, but let them have the autonomy to attack the project on their own. In addition to providing your team with the autonomy to handle projects on their own, make it a point not to just solve problems, but use them as teaching moments. Let your team present solutions to issues that arise rather than simply taking care of it yourself, and they'll often surprise you. This then empowers your team to take charge by seeing that their instincts are on the right track.
Taking charge is especially important in client-facing roles, however. Since there are many moving parts, tasks can be accomplished without knowing who exactly picked up what. This can cause team members to get lost, become confused about their role and can even lead to frustration. It is important to clarify each team member's roles and responsibilities to avoid any confusion and ensure each employee is aware of what they need to accomplish to be successful. Once roles and responsibilities are clearly defined, make sure to document everything and anything that comes in, so there is no need to repeat past lessons. This provides wonderful company-wide visibility and allows teams to point to currently clear processes or see what needs to be updated to fit the current work environment. Not to mention, it makes acknowledging individual work that much easier.
While feedback and visibility are things regularly discussed in the workplace, they still often fall by the wayside due to hectic schedules and not being intentional about environmental and process reviews. Look to make this a priority, something that is ingrained in your company culture, so that employees are never left questioning their stance.
Related: 5 Ways to Empower Your Employees
Prioritize honest and constructive feedback
Once you've set the foundation of a supportive environment, learn to provide effective feedback that will help your team grow.
When empowering your team to take charge and learning to let go, mistakes are inevitably going to happen. That's why it's important to cultivate a safe environment where feedback can be shared and received on an open basis. This psychologically safe environment can be created by building the right climate, mindsets and behaviors within their teams — ultimately leading to a place where leaders are comfortable giving feedback and employees feel supported when they receive constructive feedback.
This should entail open lines of communication where everyone feels comfortable sharing their thoughts and feedback, as well as openly communicating about where improvements can be made and how. When you create this environment, your team will feel significantly more confident when approaching obstacles and asking questions. A supportive feedback environment has shown to have significant performance improvements for employees over time than those in unsupportive environments — further showcasing the need to make this a priority.
It can be difficult to step into the role of providing feedback. However, it is a valuable skill that, when done properly and constructively, can make for an even greater team and environment. When providing feedback, be sure to: Examine your intentions, set expectations early, ask if your colleague is in a place to receive it at this time, pause and allow for them to respond, and offer concrete next steps.
Recognize employees' efforts and show appreciation
Lastly, get to know your team members, and put forth an effort to build a relationship with them. Taking time to show appreciation for your team's work and effort goes an incredibly long way. It is equally important to be genuine, making an effort to construct personal conversations and relationships. This will demonstrate to your team that you are paying attention to them and are personally passionate about their growth. Also, recognizing the importance of rewarding positive behavior instead of strictly punishing mistakes will grow your company exponentially, as positive reinforcement is shown to work better and faster than punishment.
How to get started
If you're looking to implement these changes, start small. Transformative and long-term change is not going to happen all at once, but rather over time by making these changes a priority.
You need to begin building a strong foundation with your team to make sure they know and trust that you're available to help. This could look like setting office hours where you're available during the same time every week or creating regular individual check-ins with each member of your team to give them the time to chat through their challenges and questions.
In addition, model the behavior you want to see in your employees. Through examples, show them how you take initiative, and allow the opportunity for them to do it themselves. Rewiring your team is not going to happen overnight, but it is important to begin taking steps towards this new future. Over time, as these become standard practice, employees will begin to feel empowered and take initiative, overall strengthening your company from the inside out.
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