Sun Nov 14 2021

3 Ways to Build Empowerment

Empowerment is the foundation of successful, high-performing teams. Empowered team members successfully solve problems independently and with intiative. Build your team's empowerment through building confidence, providing guidelines, and making your team feel trusted.

1. Build Your Team’s Confidence

Before your team members can make decisions without asking the supervisor, they must feel confident in their abilities to do their jobs. Team members who are uncertain or scared about making decisions can struggle to come up with their own solutions or follow through completely.

To help your team members feel more confident, invite them to provide feedback or offer solutions more frequently. If one of your team members brings you a problem, if you have the time ask the team member how the team member feels the problem should be solved. Your team member probably has an idea of how the problem should be solved based on training or the team member’s own experience. Use the team member’s solution if it is good enough; if it is not, highlight the good parts and make suggestions for how the solution could be improved. Using your team’s feedback validates their capabilities and lets them know you think they know how to do their jobs.

2. Provide Guidelines for Empowerment

Before your team members can develop their own solutions to the problems they encounter, they need to understand what are the good solutions to problems they will likely encounter. Team members often build this knowledge through training and on-the-job experience; however, if your team is not in the habit of solving problems without you they may still lack the confidence to act without your approval.

To help your team learn how to act without you, provide written guidelines that describe how you would like your team to respond to common scenarios your team members are likely to face. Include brief descriptions of why the preferred response is the preferred response. Be sure to visibly share these guidelines with your team and to review the guidelines with your team. If they have suggestions for how a response could be better, incorporating their feedback will help build their confidence and make them feel like you trust their knowledge and experience.

3. Make Your Team Feel Trusted

Your team members must know they have a safe environment in which to act independently and with initiative. They have to know that they can solve their problems without you — without risking punishment with every decision they make.

That said, if they do make a mistake, they should be coached on the how to do things better the next time. Of course, for especially serious errors, the team member may have to undergo performance management, a written warning, or even termination. But for most instances, team members need to know that if they do something wrong once they will not be severely punished. Mistakes happen, and empowered team members will make mistakes from time to time. Focus on patterns of behavior instead of isolated one-off mistakes.

Building Empowerment Takes Time!

Your team will need time to build confidence and understand what you expect of them for how they should solve problems without you. Consistent support and coaching over the long-term will help your team perform better and reduce their needs for your approval or involvement in doing their jobs.

You can help your team feel more empowered. Empowering your team will make your team perform well and free you up to work on other things to support your team’s success and your own success.