Have you ever set a team a task to complete, only to have them come back to you with a hundred different questions rather than using their judgement and making their own decisions? This is one of the main symptoms of employees who feel ineffectual, and demonstrates exactly why it is important to empower your teams.
Companies that encourage employees to feel confident and in control of their working lives are generally more financially successful and experience 50 per cent higher customer loyalty, so it is clear that there are significant benefits to this approach. Here are three ways you can help your teams feel empowered.
Create a discussion
Leadership guru John C. Maxwell has said that "meaningful, purposeful dialogue not only develops skills and knowledge, but also discernment and decision-making", and it is these attributes that help teams feel empowered. As such, it is a good idea to make sure you ask questions of your teams to spark a discussion between them.
However, perhaps even more important than asking questions is listening closely to the answers. You need staff members to feel like they are being heard, as this experience in turn makes them feel valued. Engaging a team in this manner can help quieter and less-confident members feel more able to come forward with their own ideas.
Show them the big picture
It can be difficult to genuinely feel empowered if you aren't aware of the long-term goals your company is working towards. If you can't see how your contribution helps the business overall, it can feel like you're a small cog in an incomprehensible machine. To empower your teams, you need to prevent them from thinking this way.
This is what Forbes contributor Drew Hendricks calls "cultivating the executive mentality". Simply hosting regular meetings with your teams to show them how they fit into the overall workings of the company can help them enter this mindset and feel more empowered to change things.
Make failure acceptable
If employees are too scared to fail, they are not going to be able to succeed. However, many business cultures punish setbacks, which makes teams afraid to think outside the box.
Sochiro Honda, the founder of Honda Motor Company, famously once said: "Success is 99 per cent failure." This is a value you need to instill in your workforce to truly help them feel empowered. Remind them that each one of them fell down a hundred times before they learned how to walk, so failing is just a natural part of working towards a success.