Blog by Pritha Banerjee, Pro Bono Volunteer
Employee empowerment refers to giving your employees an amount of autonomy and responsibility for decision-making regarding their specific organizational tasks. Being a leader in this business requires helping employees carry out their tasks without constant micro-management from you. When employees are independent, your time is freed up to do other business tasks. Doing the job independently and being empowered may sound similar but are slightly different. When you empower employees, you allow them to make certain business decisions, instead of having employees who are able to work independently, but have to follow standard procedures while doing so. This can be a very powerful tool for the employee, the company and you.
One of the reasons it is so powerful is because accountability improves. When you trust employees to make decisions and get things done within reasonable judgement, you are telling them that you feel that they are intelligent and can handle things. This can allow employees to become more confident in their job, which implies that they will get their job done to the best of their abilities.
Nothing is more frustrating than while dealing with business issues, to have to constantly refer to another person in the chain of command. If the person is given the authority and resources to get the job done without referring to ten people, the job can get done faster. This can lead to faster problem resolution. For instance, if you are out on a business meeting and the phones stop working, having an employee who is authorized to work with the phone technicians could resolve the problem before your return.
Another reason that employee empowerment can be a powerful tool is because it can offer high quality customer service. When thinking about customer service, I usually think about the number of times an employee has to go to his manager just to get a customer issue sorted. This is time-consuming and customers don’t like it. Giving employees the power to make certain deals or provide other customer service solutions can build a happier customer base. Empowered employees also have higher job satisfaction as they know that their boss values and trusts them. For instance, if an employee was able to help an unhappy customer get the resolution they desired by thinking slightly outside company protocols, the employee starts to feel happy with his achievement. Situations such as this can also help employees build enough confidence to mould junior talent into senior management over time.
In conclusion, empowered employees are allowed to question things and look at every aspect of the job from their perspective. If an employee doesn’t feel empowered, he or she simply punches in and beats around the bush until it is time to punch out again without ever questioning the process. An empowered employee sees the better way, adjusts the system and in the process can make the entire system better. Empowered employees know that managers respect new ideas that make things better.