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In a world which is constantly changing, there is one disturbing statistic that should send chills through all business leaders. Yet, simultaneously, this statistic will excite those leaders who are able to visualize the opportunity this presents. I’m talking about employee engagement levels.
According to Gallup, the ratio of employees who are engaged at work has remained almost unchanged since it began tracking employee engagement in the United States in 2000. If your organization is typical of businesses in the United States, then more than two-thirds of your employees are disengaged. They either lack enthusiasm for the work they are doing, or simply hate their jobs.
When your people are engaged with their work, they perform better. Productivity rises. They strive to solve problems, take responsibility, and turn a job into a career. Engaged employees stay with an organization. Staff turnover decreases. In short, a highly engaged workforce is a highly effective workforce.
But how do you engage your people? The secret is to sell it, and to do this you must empower your employees.
When you empower employees, you give them decision-making authority about their own jobs. You pass the micromanagement responsibilities to the employees themselves. This responsibility for deciding how their work is done commutes to higher levels of employee engagement. You’ll discover that a greater sense of togetherness evolves, with ideas shared. There will be greater collaboration between employees. By extension, the organization will realize performance and productivity gains.
The following five-step process of empowerment will energize your employees. This process will encourage greater responsibility, and help your people improve their performance as they each stretch to reach their own individual (and collective) potential.
Help your people understand the strategic vision of your organization. Discuss where your business focus lies now, and where it will be in the future. Encourage them to discuss the vision, and make it a target for all to work toward. Ask them their ideas and inspire participation in the journey to the future vision, which is now a common goal.
It’s important that employees connect their efforts to the those of the organization. Help your people to set goals that are aligned with those of the organization. This will increase their confidence in their decision-making, and the alignment of personal goals with those of the organization will naturally increase engagement.
Recognize success, and reward effort. People who feel appreciated step up to the plate and perform. They encourage their colleagues to do likewise. Motivation moves an employee from working because he or she “needs the money”, to working because they want to.
In our article ‘How to motivate your employees using behavioral leadership theory’, we discuss four motivating factors in the workplace, including the need to foster good personal relationships in the workplace. This will encourage interaction, collaboration and cooperation – all active ingredients of engagement.
There are hurdles to employee empowerment in all organizations. These may be policies, politics, practices or habits (“It’s the way it has always been done”). Remove all these hurdles. Foster an environment of open communication – it’s the key to engaging employees and leading change. Encourage employees to discuss problems and propose ideas for improvement, and request feedback to encourage collaboration.
Further, help your people adapt by providing training, mentorship, feedback, and anything else they need to become empowered in their position.
The final step in the empowerment process is one which many leaders find difficult. You need to remove yourself. Step away from standing over your people. Close monitoring can obstruct people from the path of personal growth. Being under the microscope inhibits performance. Giving up control is the hardest thing for a manager to do; but when you do, the employee will feel trusted as never before – and this is true empowerment.
While empowerment is key to engagement, the inspirational leader understands that he or she must constantly and consistently strive to empower and engage. You can fully empower an employee, but this does not mean he or she will be engaged. Poor working conditions, compensation, or simply bad leadership are just some of the factors that work to disengage empowered employees.
Our Executive and Leadership Coaching programs are designed to develop executive capabilities, building these essential leadership behaviors:
Contact Primeast today to discover more, and begin the journey toward a fully empowered and engaged workforce.
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