Your goal is to create a work environment in which people are empowered, productive, contributing, and happy. Don’t hobble them by limiting their tools or information. Trust them to do the right thing, then get out of their way and watch them succeed.
This advice from Susan M. Heathfield, About.com Guide offers the ten most important principles for managing people in a way that reinforces employee empowerment, accomplishment, and contribution.
1. Demonstrate That You Value People
Your regard for people shines through in all of your actions and words. Your facial expression, your body language, and your words express what you are thinking about the people who report to you. Your goal is to demonstrate your appreciation for each person’s unique value. No matter how an employee is performing on his or her current task, your value for the employee as a human being should never falter and always be visible.
2. Share Leadership Vision
Help people feel that they are part of something bigger than themselves and their individual job. Do this by making sure they know and have access to the organization’s overall mission, vision, and strategic plans.
3. Share Goals and Direction
Share the most important goals and direction for your group. Where possible, either make progress on goals measurable and observable, or ascertain that you have shared your picture of a positive outcome with the people responsible for accomplishing the results. If you share a picture and share meaning, you have agreed upon what constitutes a successful and acceptable deliverable. Empowered employees can then chart their course without close supervision.
4. Trust People
Trust the intentions of people to do the right thing, make the right decision, and make choices that, while maybe not exactly what you would decide, still work. When employees receive clear expectations from their manager, they relax and trust you. They focus their energy on accomplishing, not on wondering, worrying, and second-guessing.
5. Provide Information for Decision Making
Make certain that you have given people, or made sure that they have access to, all of the information they need to make thoughtful decisions.
6. Delegate Authority and Impact Opportunities, Not Just More Work
Don’t just delegate the drudge work; delegate some of the fun stuff, too. Delegate the important meetings, the committee memberships that influence product development and decision making, and the projects that people and customers notice. The employee will grow and develop new skills. Your plate will be less full so you can concentrate on contribution.
7. Provide Frequent Feedback
Provide frequent feedback so that people know how they are doing. Sometimes, the purpose of feedback is reward and recognition as well as improvement coaching. People deserve your constructive feedback, too, so they can continue to develop their knowledge and skills.
8. Solve Problems: Don’t Pinpoint Problem People
When a problem occurs, ask what is wrong with the work system that caused the people to fail, not what is wrong with the people. Worst case response to problems? Seek to identify and punish the guilty.
9. Listen to Learn and Ask Questions to Provide Guidance
Provide a space in which people will communicate by listening to them and asking them questions. Guide by asking questions, not by telling grown up people what to do. People generally know the right answers if they have the opportunity to produce them. When an employee brings you a problem to solve, ask, “what do you think you should do to solve this problem?” Or, ask, “what action steps do you recommend?” Employees can demonstrate what they know and grow in the process. Eventually, you will feel comfortable telling the employee that he or she need not ask you about similar situations. You trust their judgment.
10. Help Employees Feel Rewarded and Recognized for Empowered Behavior
When employees feel under-compensated, under-titled for the responsibilities they take on, under-noticed, under-praised, and under-appreciated, don’t expect results from employee empowerment. The basic needs of employees must feel met for employees to give you their discretionary energy, that extra effort that people voluntarily invest in work. For successful employee empowerment, recognition plays a significant role.
Source: Susan M. Heathfield, About.com Guide