More and more talents today long for a sense of choice rather than being managed. They need coaching leaders instead of bossy managers. They desire personal growth and challenges within their organisation instead of prefabricated tasks. So how do we move from conservative management to progressive empowerment?
The process of granting employees authority and powers through the resources, skills and opportunities they are equipped with.
The definition of "Empowerment in the workplace"
Empowerment, big thing since when?
In the 21st century, the high-potential talent pool is expanding drastically as quality education is more accessible. At the same time, globalisation and the advancement of digital communication tools have both enabled and forced companies to have greater transparency towards employees, especially their external ones. People are more aware of how other organisations are valuing their talents and no longer accept the conservative idea of "buying loyalty". This pressurises employers into nurturing their talents even more to attract, engage and retain them. For employers, offering people the chance to be in charge of their own career is the first step to attracting the right talent.
But that’s not enough.
A lot of the companies that I have been in contact with are doing an excellent job in creating an employer brand and have attracted many talents. However, a majority of them soon realised that people were starting to leave after one or two years because they felt bored, unchallenged or disengaged. This is one of the most common problems in professional staffing for example. The "promised land" just wasn't there. The current world of work needs more managers that can coach and lead by example. By being a guide, rather than an authority, they can teach people how to better contribute their knowledge and skills to the workforce or the customer, making them aware of the impact they can have.
Why is empowering people important?
Empowerment leads to engagement
When talents are empowered, they feel a sense of ownership and trust. They are willing to contribute to your strategy and create value for your customers and other stakeholders, for themselves and society. They will see themselves contributing to something bigger and greater. And they will stay longer at your company. There is also a strong correlation between employee engagement and company revenue. According to Gallup, companies can enjoy on average 21% greater profitability from engaged business units in comparison to companies with disengaged employees. (calculate your potential ROI here)
Train your people so that they can leave. Treat your people so that they want to stay.
Empowerment promotes the agility of an organisation
When you are working in a team, you need to combine different skill sets to solve complex problems. Just because you are the leader, doesn't mean you know everything best. Empowering people is about hearing the different voices so that one person will never be the sole decision-maker. Such processes are especially vital for an agile company to adapt to rapidly changing markets and rising demands of customers. When people are empowered, they will be more open or even brutally honest about the problems they observe or encounter, which forces the company to face the problems directly without any holdbacks. So when something happens in your field of operation, you can respond more quickly and thus progress faster.
Empowerment gives way to greater values
The new generation sees their careers as a chain of experiences, and being in your organisation is only one of them. Empowerment is a way to let them treasure the opportunities and increase the attractiveness of prolonging the experience. They wish to achieve something greater together with the organisation. If you do not empower them, you are not giving way to the values they could bring to your organisation.
Empowerment at intuo
It is always about ownership
Team leaders at intuo have the common consensus that they do not tell their teams what exactly they have to do, but rather what is important for intuo and what intuo aims to achieve. It helps them align their personal goals with the company goals. I have always believed in empowering my team so they can create and grow their own careers and share their knowledge with the outside world. Leaders are just there to provide the right guidance and assist them where needed.
One of the biggest realisations that I've had growing the company alongside a fantastic team is that people get their energy to thrive in different ways. Everyone has their idea of "the perfect working flow" and this should be taken into account when installing a work environment. Because an environment that works 100% for one employee but only 20% for others is not the way to go. The latter are very prone to the risk of a burnout in this situation. Empowering employees means giving them the opportunity to co-create an environment and find a balance which allows them to fully commit their energy for about 70% of the time.
Organisations today need to have processes in place to empower people. The processes that intuo implements include regular sharing of information. We aim for 100% transparency and trust in the company. For example, when there is a problem with a certain project. Even if explaining and communicating the problem to the entire team can be quite tricky and troublesome, we still do it because transparency builds the foundation of trust. It opens the door to more and better input to solve these issues.
How do we empower?
First of all, it is a process. Every individual is different and sometimes they don't know exactly what they want straight away either. Installing the right methods to get the answers together will be key.
Empower the ones that wish to be empowered
It is very common that in every organisation people work for various purposes. Some work for the money, some for comfort, some for accomplishment and some for self-actualisation. However, as a leader, you need to identify who are the ones that want to bring the company's vision forward and create an environment where they can discover their own purpose. When they realise that they are part of a great team with a great vision, they'll want to have the means to thrive for sure.
Employees first need to be purpose-aware, before they can be purpose-driven.
Think of your current processes
How is your company currently functioning? How many interactions and channels are there right now where people can share their concerns and opinions openly, honestly and consistently? If performance evaluations and exchange of feedback are conducted only once every six months, then chances are pretty high there's a lot more to gain from and for your employees.
Giving and asking your team for continuous feedback is empowering. Listening to their opinions about the company on a regular basis is empowering. Letting certain people take full ownership of a project is empowering. Ask yourself how good of a job your organisation is doing in these areas. Also, empowerment is not a one-man show. You might have the best intentions of the world but you will still need a great team of leaders to support the process. Give them the freedom think about how they can share these new values with their team members so they can act on them.
How can intuo help you with your empowerment?
My team and I truly believe that intuo can be the technological facilitator for empowerment. What I mean is that we are lowering the barriers for organisations to really connect with their employees on a professional level. Enabling strong communication, creating trust and utilising purpose as a driver is what we can help with. And this kind of facilitation goes both ways. Intuo prides itself in empowering people to voice and accomplish their goals and ambitions, both inside and outside of the organisation. Helping individuals and organisations achieve something greater collectively, is what we aim to do every single day. Teamwork makes the dream work!