The 8 best ways to empower you team

 In Business Advice, Startups

It’s the goal of virtually every manager and business owner to surround themselves with a team that can drive the business forward with their own knowledge, expertise and effort. If you’re thinking you’d need attractive salaries and a big recruitment drive for that to happen in your business, you might not be doing your current team the justice they deserve. Virtually every employee you have is capable of great things, you’ve just got to know how to draw it out…

  1. Look for consistent effort

Talent for a role is hard to come by, for every 10 great interviews there are probably only 2-3 people who deliver with the natural skill they promised, but this doesn’t mean people can’t be exceptional. If you talk to any successful business person they’re likely to cite hard-work long before any acknowledging the part any ‘natural ability’ had to play in their journey.

Start rewarding hard work. And not just the odd late night or end of month push – think about the people who are always giving a lot – even if they don’t stand out. Are there people who are always in early, always delivering on time and never causing problems. Consistency is king. When you’re seen to recognise it, you’ll encourage more of it.

  1. Give ownership

You’ve formulated a solid plan over countless sleepless nights, the team seem onboard and you’re ready to go. What happens when it goes wrong? We hate to break it to you – but can bet your life that you’re getting a big portion of the blame.

Giving ownership of how the initial plan should look is the key here – don’t call the shots, pass it to your team and let them create a plan – in doing so, you’re not only demonstrating trust, but you’re also ensuring that should anything go wrong, they’re fully invested, so you’re less likely to fall at the first hurdle – and more likely to have a team who’ll persevere, not wanting their plan to fail.

  1. Explain to employees where they can go with your business

While it might be obvious to you, your corporate structure or the possibility of new roles, pay rises, performance bonuses and much more can be a mystery to employees. Don’t rely on someone remembering what you’ve told them in their interview – talk to people frequently about the possibility of building upon the role they already have. People benefit from having something to strive for – so give them an option that relates to their work! Creditfix who are one of the UK’s leading personal insolvency companies specialising in Individual Voluntary Arrangement (IVA)’s and Trust Deeds is a great example of a business who does this, they regularly promote from within the organisation and provide guidance to their staff on how they can achieve promotions across their various departments.

  1. Offer the right perks

In a recent study spanning thousands of UK employees people were asked about the perks they value the most in their role. If you’re expecting monetary and material rewards to be high on the list you’d be wrong – people overwhelmingly value the stuff that doesn’t cost you a penny, flexible working hours, times that work around family and days off for special events all featured highly.

A surprising number of people said that being able to take essential non-work phone calls in private eased their mind through the day too. That might seem to impact a person’s productivity slightly, but it could be argued that increased focus is worth the 10-minute outlay. If you’re not sure what people want, ask, it might be different for everyone, so cutting everyone a bit of slack in the areas they need can really bolster esteem, dedication and willing toward your business.

  1. Listen

It might be an obvious one, but it’s severely overlooked. People want to be heard – and while it can be difficult to maintain objectivity if you’re the person at the helm of the business, being as non-judgemental as possible is the key to being a good and empathic listener.

Could you schedule a once-monthly or quarterly session where you talk openly about a person’s performance, the business, how they’re impacting the company, their wants, needs and desires? If you can, do. In terms of empowerment there are few things you can do that will get people onside like this.

Listening does come with a caveat though – if you promise some kind of action, make sure it happens, your listening will be for nothing if you don’t act on your promises.

  1. Forgive mistakes

It’s really important that people aren’t dragged over the coals for making mistakes in your business – if they are, the empowerment gauge is forever going to sit around the low or empty mark. Mistakes mean that people are going out on a limb, they’re making decisions they think are right and they’re using their own judgement – even if the result turns out to be wrong.

Instead of punishing mistakes, look at what someone can do differently next time around and support them to get there. If you want people to be reaching for the stars on behalf of your organisation, you’re going to want to provide a safety net around them – not a pit of spikes.

  1. Reflect empowerment in your hiring/firing

All these steps are for nothing if you don’t practice what you preach when it comes to looking after your staff. Do you have a policy that means you get rid of your lowest performing sales person each quarter? Is it straight down the disciplinary route when there’s illness? Do you have disposable staff brought in for short term tasks?

If you create an uncertain workplace, you’re letting people know that their individual idiosyncrasies and lives aren’t being accounted for and that they’re just part of a rolling machine that stops for no one. It might take some getting used to, and there’s certainly no excusing misconduct – but letting people know they’re in a predictable and forgiving workplace means they’re free to work to their full potential.

  1. Understand your team

If you remember just one thing – it’s that an individual understanding of your employees is vital if you want an empowered workforce. Everyone’s unique, they offer different skills, bring different aptitudes, likes, dislikes and passions. You might be asking yourself if you’ve got the time to dedicate to knowing your team – instead, look at the benefits of an empowered workforce – and ask yourself if you can afford not to have fully empowered and engaged team going forward…

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