It's not enough to build an effective team; business leaders must also focus on employee empowerment.

4 Ways to Encourage Employee Empowerment

Employee Management

It’s not enough to build an effective team; business leaders must also focus on employee empowerment. Here are four ways to help empower your team.

Building an effective team will only go so far if employees feel at all held back or micromanaged. Business leaders must also focus on employee empowerment; when employees are kept on too short a leash, they won’t innovate, invest in their work, or feel able to go the extra mile to improve customer experiences. Instead of reining in their employees, the most successful leaders work to enable employees to reach their full potential.

Unfortunately, many business leaders may inadvertently hold employees back from reaching that potential — and their businesses may suffer without their realization. For instance, a strong leader may rely too much on his or her own decision-making and brainstorming skills and miss out on hearing the ideas and input from smart employees with different perspectives. In the words of leadership expert and business author Ken Blanchard, “None of us is as smart as all of us.”

Don’t allow your employees’ talents to lie fallow; instead, make a conscious effort to empower them and make room for them to reach their full potential. This may mean preparing them to be a future leader and providing them with opportunities to showcase their skills. Here are four ways to foster growth among your employees:

1. Give Employees a Voice

It’s difficult to feel empowered if nobody’s listening to what you have to say. Open avenues of communication and truly value your employees’ input. That may mean establishing an open-door management policy or holding regular meetings in which leaders ask for employees’ input about various topics and plans. But don’t let it just be an empty exercise: Actually take employees’ ideas and opinions to heart and allow them to influence the direction of the organization.

2. Provide Necessary Training and Development

When your workers are not skilled in the latest tools and techniques of your industry, they can never be empowered to boost your business. Because people need competence and clarity to make effective decisions, “an empowering organization spends more time with technical training and clarity of purpose than one that relies on a top-down compliance model,” according to David Marquet of the Harvard Business Review. If your employees don’t have technical competence and a clear understanding of your organization’s mission and direction, giving them power or control will just cause chaos.

3. Allow Freedom Within Limits

Leaders with empowered employees are more focused on results than process. That means they may provide a big-picture vision or general instructions, but they leave it up to individual workers to determine how to reach the end result. Rather than micromanaging the process, trust your employees to accomplish their goal in their own way. Simply check on their progress regularly and celebrate the results with them.

4. Establish a Culture of Empowerment

If you want your employees — and your organization — to reach their full potential, employee empowerment can’t be a project or an experiment. Make it a part of your organization’s culture to rely on input from the entire staff and to encourage people to lead on their own levels. Even in a crisis situation, truly empowered employees can be trusted to make wise, deliberate decisions and follow through.

As leaders work to develop employee empowerment, they often find that their jobs become easier. Free from micromanaging every process or procedure in the organization, they are better able to focus on strategic initiatives and trust their employees to keep the organization going. By fostering employees’ growth and allowing them to reach their full potential, you will develop future leaders and build a stronger organization.

Nancy Mann Jackson
Nancy Mann Jackson

Nancy Mann Jackson writes regularly about finance, the workplace and career issues. Her work has appeared on CNBC.com, CNNMoney.com, Entrepreneur, Glassdoor.com, DailyWorth.com and Fortune.