Keeping a job for a lifetime at the same company is no longer a concern for employees. Nowadays, most employees are looking to explore, to evolve professionally, to grow personally and do not depend on one company to do so.
With the amount of layoffs in the last generation, employees have learnt to mistrust leaders and corporations. They no longer feel empowered, committed, engaged, aligned with their organization or no longer think that leaders have their best interest at heart.
However, good employees are needed to reach company goals. Leaders should be concerned when several good employees leave in a matter of weeks, when employees start performing poorly, act disengaged, take too many sick leaves, skip meetings, arrive late, are unmotivated, are overworked, unproductive or underpaid.
Wondering what are the strategies and tactics to empower your team, to maintain a trust climate, increase employee alignment and retain talent?
What is employee empowerment?
Employee empowerment is a loosely used term.
It mostly designates the way people feel about themselves at work, the ease with which they are able to use their strengths, to freely demonstrate their talents, to achieve their purpose, to find meaning and satisfaction in their jobs.
It also stems from their ability to feel productive, confident and in control in the workplace.
Furthermore, employee empowerment is a leadership style. Leaders must feel empowered in order to empower. Indeed, they must be able to maintain self-confidence, to manage their time, to gain influence, to effectively communicate, to listen, to reach their goals and to be open to learn.
In addition, an empowered employee doesn’t need permission to do his or her work, to create an appropriate process, to control the outcomes of his or her work, to develop a personal scope.
On the other hand, employees who are disempowered don’t openly critique the organization, don’t make open suggestions, don’t challenge the status quo, don’t know what is expected of them, and are often blindsided. When employees don’t feel empowered, they tend to leave.
What are the challenges of employee empowerment?
Deciding to quit is a long process that can be triggered by various traumatic, memorable and emotional events:
- Lack of empowerment, of recognition, validation or compensation.
- Lack of career opportunities and possibilities of growth.
- Lack of challenge. This creates boredom, a need for a career change and a need for more responsibility.
- Lack of purpose. In this case, employees feel like they are not operating at their maximum potential, that their strengths are not properly used, that their jobs don’t have meaning and don’t bring them satisfaction. Work constitutes an important part of your life. Therefore, making it meaningful and empowering is necessary.
- Career disillusionment. Employees feel like their career path is not as they believed it to be.
- Workplace toxicity and leader’s unethical behavior. Workplace toxicity comes from the fact that core values and trust have not been instilled. This can result in being influenced, in spreading toxic behavior, in feelings of being marginalized or harassed.
- Aggressive office politics.
- Poor communication with higher-ups.
- Work-life imbalance and lack of flexible hours.
- Change in personal situation (health, family, …).
- New sudden career opportunities.
Should you hold back employees who want to leave?
Retaining young employees is the most difficult because they need more care, more validation and more training.
To increase employee engagement and to compete for talents, most organizations resort to quick fixes that provide short them results. It is essential to:
- Accept that employees are going to leave no matter what.
- Accept that employees who are leaving are sure about their decision.
- Accept that the decision to leave is potentially connected to your behavior, to the company’s policy and culture.
- Hire appropriate employees for the job in the first place by directly asking them about their needs.
- Conduct an employee exit interview and ask your employees why they want to leave. Doing so will help you fix recurring problems within the organization and reduce employee turnover.
How to empower employees and prevent them from leaving?
To decrease employee turnover, leaders must change their mindset and rethink the company culture. Empowerment can lead to higher levels of commitment, innovation, motivation, more productivity and better relationships.
- Determine your core values. Have enough integrity to share and demonstrate your values.
- Be an example, demonstrate the benefits of empowerment, act ethically and a teacher to your team.
- Assess and improve your communication style.
- Be fair at all times and don’t pick favorites.
- Learn to cope with change. Don’t expect immediate change and the change you envisioned.
- Build an environment that promotes inclusiveness and unity. For example, remove the traditional organizational structures to improve communication among workers.
- Value your employees and their expertise.
- Listen to your employees. Ask them for advice, let them speak freely and truly consider their responses.
- Share your vision and your story with your team in order to motivate them towards a unique goal and to check if they align with it.
- Set high but achievable expectations for your team. Let them know about it.
- Clearly define everyone’s activities so they don’t step on other people’s toes.
- Help your employees identify their purpose, even if their calling is not in the organization. It would be more rewarding for them and more effective for you to remove them from the team and give them some indication of an ideal career path.
- Increase your employees awareness. Share information about organizational policies, processes, structures, standards, decisions.
- Involve your employees in the decision-making process.
- Learn to delegate. There is nothing more frustrating than a leader who micromanages, who needs to approve every stage of the process, who doesn’t think that their team can have the workload without them.
- Encourage people to take initiative and to solve their own problems.
- Give your employees autonomy and more ownership of their work. Give them the freedom to reach the company’s objectives.
- Allow people to take risks and to make mistakes.
- Increase accountability and avoid the blame game at all cost, especially when something goes wrong.
- Recognize, reward your employees and show appreciation for the work that your team puts in. Help them understand that their contributions at work have a real impact.
- Request and provide feedback often. Give credit when it is due, provide coaching and training.
- Have an open door policy, if possible.
- Help your employees grow professionally and personally. Allow them to succeed and be the best. Make them look good and they will reward you with good work
- Increase benefits, avoid overwork, allow flexible hours and leaves of absence.
Hope that I’ve helped you get it together on your way to leadership!
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