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The Power of Empowerment

Today’s post is about one of my favourite topics – employee empowerment. The reason that this is such a hot topic for me is that over my career, I have seen many companies focus a lot of time, effort and resources on their talent acquisition practices. Many of these same companies also spend an equal amount of time, energy and resources on their retention practices; however, the end result is less than desirable for them. They still struggle to attract the type of candidates they want. They still have high levels of turnover and decreased employee engagement. The executive of these organizations are confused because they have invested a lot in their employment brand, they developed a fantastic new onboarding program, they promote employee wellness, have flexible schedules, provide market pay and benefits….yet…..the turnover over and (dis)engagement issues persist! In speaking with the managers and HR folks at many companies I have come to the (mostly) anecdotal conclusion that a lot of these organizational shortcomings can be summed up in one word – empowerment….or the lack thereof.

I have often wondered why so many companies profess to be looking for the best and brightest yet their subsequent actions and approaches do not support this. You see and hear all the messaging around wanting to find the top performers – the best in their field. Companies articulate their desire to have these talented individuals join their team and utilize their skills to make the company grow and be successful. Yet, so many organizations, once they hire these great employees never effectively empower them in their roles. Time and time again we hire experienced computer programmers with a Masters in Computer science, or we hire a Sales Manager with proven experience opening up international distribution channels and then we never, ever empower them in their role. Their input is disregarded or they are required to vet all their ideas, approaches, product/service decisions with their next level manager. I have also seen companies where managers need to go to their manager for all employee decisions – i.e., on how to apply a policy, or when to flex a policy, approvals for days off, coaching conversations, when/how/what to communicate to their staff….you get the picture. These companies marginalize these talented individuals that they spent so much time to hire and retain, yet, the very thing that would increase their retention and job satisfaction levels costs the organization nothing. That’s right, empowering your employees costs nothing!

Think about it, not empowering your employees, is like buying a Ferrari and only driving it 10km/hr. in a parking lot and never changing the oil. The Ferrari is meant to be opened up on the highway while driving a (respectable) 100km/hr.+. Is there risk to this? Sure, you might get a ticket for speeding if you aren’t watching the speedometer. So what? You pay the fine, learn the lesson and continue driving the Ferrari while obtaining optimal performance. The same is true for employee empowerment. By empowering employees and letting them go on the employment relationship highway, you will discover optimal performance. Will they make mistakes…of course. But that is where if you have a supportive environment where regular coaching and communication takes place and there is accountability, employees WILL learn from their mistakes and improve (become optimized).

Wouldn’t YOU want to work for an employer that has this type of environment? An environment where you come to work every day knowing you are empowered to make decisions and affect change? An environment where you know that you rewarded for taking calculated risks to improve the company and customer satisfaction. Wouldn’t that type of environment bring out the best in you every day!? Assuming your answers are yes….why don’t more companies take this approach?

In order to get kick-started in your organizations I encourage you to follow this simple model:

· Hire the best employees that you can for your organization
· Train them well
· Provide them with clear goals, objectives and parameters within their role
· Empower them to meet and exceed these goals and objectives
· Hold them accountable
· Coach them when they fall short or need help to meet the goals and objectives
· Reward and Recognize when they meet and exceed

Once you have made this part of your organizational DNA, check your turnover rates and employee engagement scores….I bet you they have gone up! As always, I welcome your thoughts and feedback.

Images courtesy of Stuart Miles/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net


One Response

  1. […] my last blog post I blogged about the power of empowering employees and why organizations should be focused on this in order to reduce turnover and increase engagement. […]

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