Empowering employees means letting your employees make critical business decisions on their own – with very little supervision. When it’s done well, empowering your staff can be great. However, there can be a downside. Empowering your team can have negative repercussions if you don’t set them up for success. Employee empowerment demands good leadership, setting the right expectations and standards, in order to keep people focused on delivering excellence for the company and its customers.
Increased Confidence and Job Satisfaction
Empowering employees can really boost their confidence. You hired great people, you want to keep them, and you want them to engage, be happy, and feel confident in their work life, right? The answer is absolutely, unless they become overconfident and even arrogant. If that happens, it can infect the whole team, like the flu. It’s great to empower your team, but at the same time, it’s up to you not to let the power go to anyone’s head.
On Sharing Your Hopes and Dreams
Look no further than Zuckerberg’s strategy of access to leadership and company information at Facebook. It is empowering to have access to leaders and their ideas. It makes your team true insiders. It also gives them access to information that you might not want public. As a leader, you must weigh the pros and cons of sharing information that you are not ready to publicly release, or data that could have negative implications for the organization, with your staff. In this world of blogging and social media, even well intentioned employees might inadvertently share information with the wrong people. As a leader, you determine which information can be shared and which puts the organization at risk.
Experience and Authority Matter
You want to put your trust in your staff; you hired them because they were a great fit and had the right skill set. Empowering them to do their jobs well, with minimal supervision, was your goal. It’s a worthy goal, for sure. However, empowered employees are often given increased responsibility that they are not always ready for. If they overstep, they can make mistakes that hurt the business. Be sure that they understand when it’s appropriate to seek your advice and consent; that’s anytime that their decisions are client facing or could potentially put the company at risk.
Walking a Fine Line
As a leader of the organization, it’s up to you to model and encourage positive leadership in your team. That includes managing the people that you empower through training, staff recognition, and honest feedback. With great power, comes great responsibility; a good leader understands this and communicates his or her expectations in a way that makes employee empowerment work for the benefit of the organization.