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Action Lists > Empowering Employees

Empowering Employees

Getting Started

The word “empowerment” has received a lot of bad press in the business world. To many people, it is “the dreaded E-word!” The reason for this might be that “empowerment” has been used too often as a sop to appease discontent, and as a means of abdicating responsibility; if managers can get employees to adopt a sense of ownership and power, their own load becomes less onerous!

In essence, however, empowerment is a good thing. Research tells us that empowered individuals experience improved initiative, energy, and motivation. Their self-confidence is increased, as is the level of tenacity they display when faced with setbacks. An empowered person takes responsibility for making decisions and following them through to completion; they feel energized and excited by what they are doing and are prepared to commit to achieving mutually-agreed goals.

FAQs

I have tried to empower members of my team but I can’t get them to shed the dependency they have on being told what to do. How can I get them to re-engage with their work?

It sounds like your team colleagues aren’t motivated to contribute their brain- or brawn-power to your collective efforts. This means that you have to carry the load on your own, which must be pretty exhausting and demoralizing. Try asking them what motivates and energizes them and see if you can entice them with something that takes into account where this interest and excitement lies.

I work in a technically specialized area where mistakes are just not an option. I’d like to empower my direct reports but when I stress the limited margin for error, they seem to give up trying. What can I do?

You may be controlling your direct reports too much. Try giving them the resources they need to do their job and the discretion to use them in the way they feel is appropriate—within certain limits, of course. They may make a few mistakes; but if they feel truly empowered, they will take responsibility for dealing with these.


  

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