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  • Writer's pictureIan

28 ways to empower your workforce

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: people drive business success. This is why one of the most important things a leader can do is build an environment in which their staff want to work at their best, for the long term. This comes from empowerment and we’ve prepared 28 recommendations on how to achieve this.

1. Break targets down into easier to achieve steps.

Every member of staff should have a performance plan in place with clear long term goals, but often these are forgotten about until two weeks before an appraisal. Why not break the long term goals into 12 smaller targets so that your team can strive to achieve something significant each month? As a rule, people tend to respond better to shorter deadlines and you’ll give your team the feeling of success far more frequently.

2. Be more open about the company performance

It’s common for employees to feel as if they make little impact to the company, particularly when results are shared as numbers on spreadsheets. Prepare a company report quarterly for staff, in terms they will understand and care about, so they can see what they’re working towards and their personal value within the company.

3. Provide weekly team results updates

Emulate the working style of sales team and provide weekly updates on results. Any less often won’t be motivating enough and any more frequently will overwhelm your team.

4. Go BIG on company culture

People feel far more powerful and capable as part of a team so ensure that your company culture is working well and fostering collaboration, support and success.

Far too often we’ve seen companies spend a great deal of time defining their values and culture but then forget to introduce it to their team properly, putting all that effort and hard work to waste. Make your culture impossible to miss by creating posters, badges and company videos to educate and influence your teams.

5. Gamify certain elements of work to incentivise people to do more

Work doesn’t have to be dull. If there are certain tasks that your whole workforce must complete such as IT or security training, or adhering to a clear desk policy, why not add a competitive element to the process by rewarding those who consistently do it with points they can redeem in the canteen?

6. Hold more team meetings to get their involvement in big projects

A key way of becoming more efficient is to reduce the number of meetings a company has so why are we asking you to do the opposite? By involving the wider team in certain planning meetings (choose carefully!), you will be able to show them that you trust them with important information and care about their views.

7. Set up working groups to support business development

Empower even the most junior members of staff by creating committees they can sit on to drive change within the business on issues they care about. They can take charge of creating ideas to improve the company and communicate them at senior management meetings.

8. Get a sense of how everyone is feeling

We recommend running an employee census every year so that you can get a measure of your employee demographics, evaluate existing employee benefits and plan new policies or initiatives. It could identify a number of issues that can be addressed quickly and easily, leading to a happier, more empowered workforce who feel their opinions are listened to.

9. Ask for feedback more often to make people feel like their opinion is valued

In addition to an annual anonymous survey link, gather feedback at a team or individual level as often as you can. This can be on how meetings were run, how well projects were completed, how they feel about their workload etc.

10. Manage bad news carefully

Companies will always experience misfortune at some point and how you handle it could have a significant impact on performance. Here are some examples of how to manage redundancies and how to demonstrate strong leadership in a crisis.

11. Give public praise

When producing company case study content, include the names of the employees that played a particular role in helping the customer.

You can also give shout outs to staff where appropriate on social media. Examples could be a happy customer, an event that has gone well, someone has passed another piece of training, someone has reached a milestone at the company etc.

12. Delegate problems; not tasks.

If you give someone a task, you’re simply adding to their workload. However, if you give them a problem, they need to go and find a solution. It becomes an opportunity for ownership, creative thinking, initiative and success.

13. Delegate more than just work.

Demonstate the trust that you have in your team by encouraging them to hold certain meetings or prepare presentations on your behalf.

14. Make sure those working from home are also supported.

Out of sight, out of mind? We hope not! Ensure that your remote workforce feels connected to their colleagues and has the tools in place for effective collaboration. We have a tipsheet to help those working from home to get the best from their day.

15. Make your staff feel like co-owners

Make the success of your company truly mean something to your staff by following in the shoes of Waitrose and John Lewis, and Coop. For John Lewis specifically, each employee, or “partner”, receives a bonus annually based on the Partnership’s overall performance, shared as a percentage of their salary, discounts in-store and online, and other benefits via a company portal.

16. Self-control over skills development

Let staff members take control of their skills development by giving them an individual budget to spend on a training course of their choosing. Whether they select something to help them do better in their role or to acquire a new personal skill, you’re giving them the ability to learn and showing them they’re worth investing in for the long term.

17. Cultivate emotional intelligence in your managers to better support their teams.

Many businesses tend to forget about one of the pillars of all strong relationships: Emotional Intelligence, or EI. Mastering EI is all about understanding the factors that contribute to workplace satisfaction and choosing to play a positive role in your employees' outlooks.

18. Give them control over where and when they work

Working 9-5 in the office doesn’t suit everyone. In fact, many valued employees who are also parents are forced to work reduced hours so that they can manage school drop offs and pick ups. And what of the team members who are most productive late evening?

Trust your staff to choose when and where they work so that they can do their job to their best ability and better manage childcare / their health.

19. Conduct 360 degree reviews

Nothing is more demotivating than a poor manager and without any means to voice concerns over leadership, junior members are forced to leave while the poor management remains in place. Why not let junior members of staff play a role in the appraisal process of their line managers by running 360 degrees reviews? It should give different perspectives and make managers stronger overall.

20. Stop micromanaging

All managers have been guilty of micromanagement at one point or another, particularly if they’re letting go of important tasks for the first time. What must be remembered is the focus is the result; not the method. By delegating in the right way, your team may find a different, and improved, way of getting the work done.

21. Let them choose the tools they work with

You may pay for the tools and platforms your workforce needs but they’re the ones using them so why not give them a role to play in choosing which to go for at renewal time? Set up a committee who can survey staff, trial different offerings, gather votes, and then present recommendations to the board. They can also then play a part in rolling out the platform to the company.

22. Encourage cross-team socialising

It’s important that teams work well together, and this can be aided by cross-team socialising or a buddy system. This will also ensure that everyone has a strong support system around them to address any issues that a line manager cannot.

23. Don’t forget about new starters.

Make sure you’re giving the right support to staff from day one with a solid onboarding programme.

24. Give every member of staff additional responsibilities

While you may not feel comfortable assigning customer cases or project management tasks to certain team members, everyone in your company could be a mentor or a buddy. They could also support with onboarding or welcoming new staff, organising team events and more. Even the smallest projects can make a difference.

25. Be as honest as you can be all the time.

Your staff need to trust you wholeheartedly – if they can’t, they won’t feel their efforts are worthwhile. Let your staff ask you questions and be as honest as you can. If you can’t disclose certain information, explain why and they’ll understand and respect you for doing so.

26. Don’t dwell on mistakes your staff have made.

Guilt can be toxic for performance. Everyone makes mistakes, it’s how it is dealt with that makes the difference.

Consider what happened, find a way of fixing it or preventing it from happening again (ideally with their involvement), forgive them and move on.

27. Give praise in new and different ways

Like any phrase, say “well done” too many times and it loses its meaning. From points to redeem in the canteen and public praise, to 1-2-1 coaching sessions and gifts in the post, there are millions of ways to show your employees that their hard work is appreciated.

28. Never forget to acknowledge good work

While extravagant forms of praise can go a long way in empowering staff, so can reacting quickly. If an employee’s efforts are overlooked for more than a few days they may feel disinclined to try as hard in the future. A good manager’s main role is to optimise team performance – nothing should be missed.

As you’ve got to this point, you’re clearly serious about taking action to empower your employees. That’s great! We hope that you can put in place at least one of the measures listed above and if you’d like additional support in the form of external HR support, please get in touch. We’d love to help you.

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