How to Build Employee Empowerment in the Workplace

by Pranav Ramesh
January 20, 2022
Empowerment Dynamics: Transforming Your Workplace Culture

There’s an adage that an organization’s most valuable resource is its people. Management schools teach us that the “People” in the People, Technology, Process framework are key to success. Yet, how often do employees leave a company because they were micromanaged or because they couldn’t deal with a stifling workplace environment?

One method that employers are using to improve productivity and employee retention involves employee empowerment. This leadership philosophy gives employees the ability and resources they need to think and act autonomously and be held accountable for their decisions. With evolving workplaces and a growing need for greater employee engagement, employee empowerment techniques have become a powerful tool in employers’ arsenal to boost retention and satisfaction. But, equally, a lack of empowerment can lead to employees becoming frustrated with their work and dropping rates of engagement.

Allow Employees to Think and Act Independently

Recent MBA graduate and new hire Mike Flanagan was excited to begin his career as a financial manager at a large investment firm. What he wasn’t prepared for was a supervisor with a tendency to micromanage. This was a different environment than Mike had experienced in school and during his internship. It felt as though every decision Mike made for his clients was questioned, criticized, and sometimes punished. He often felt like he couldn’t do anything right.

Ideally, according to the principles of employee empowerment, Mike should have been mentored and guided as a new professional, not micro-managed. He spent much of his first year with the company frustrated and unable to figure out what he could do to get his supervisor to relent.

Provide Regular “Check-in” Meetings Instead of Yearly Reviews

It is typical for traditional management methods to hold annual employee performance reviews. Perhaps this was sufficient in the pre-Internet era before businesses moved so quickly, but it hardly seems acceptable now. What good does it do to compile a year’s worth of criticism for a meeting that most employees dread? A company interested in employee empowerment might instead utilize another technique: regular “check-in” meetings. This allows supervisors to meet briefly with employees more frequently so issues can be more quickly addressed, and praise more accurately delivered. An employee will feel more invested when they know their supervisor cares enough to meet regularly, reviews their performance and projects, and solicits feedback from the employee on how they can be a better supervisor.

Instead of brief, but periodical “check-ins,” Mike’s supervisor would not meet with him except for his annual performance review. Mike didn’t get much out of that meeting, just more nit-picking and an even worse sense of being micromanaged. Without a plan for his continued growth, Mike was starting to feel like there wasn’t much room for him here.

Implement Regular and Meaningful Feedback Opportunities

Halfway through Mike’s first year, his frustrations led him to seek out some support elsewhere in the firm. He was desperate for someone to listen to him and offer guidance. What he found instead were more roadblocks. While many colleagues agreed that his situation was bad, there was no path forward to help him deal with it. This firm still operated in a very top-down, management-heavy approach to employees. Co-workers warned him that voicing his concerns to his supervisor’s manager would likely only make things worse, if not get him fired outright.

In an employee empowered environment, it would be unlikely that Mike would have found himself in this situation. Under the employee empowerment model, employees are given a voice in the strategic direction and planning of a company’s future. Studies prove that when employees feel their concerns and suggestions are listened to seriously, they are much more likely to feel invested in their employment.

Assist Employees in Pursuing Continued Education & Training

Employees can feel stagnant when professional growth isn’t encouraged by their employer. Setting benchmarks for improvement and offering opportunities for education and training are hallmarks of employee empowerment. These opportunities prove to the employee that management is interested in their continued success. Applying this tactic to employees who work remotely can be really helpful in making them feel connected to their company as well.

Mike was unsurprised, but still disappointed when he found out his firm wouldn’t be offering him the continued learning opportunities that were discussed at his interview. If Mike wanted to pursue these options, he would have to pay for it himself and take vacation days to do so. How much more could this firm prove to Mike that they weren’t willing to invest in him?

Thankfully, Mike made the decision early in his career to move on. The culture at this company was so antiquated that he never felt as though he belonged. Mike used his experience in his first year to understand what questions to ask and what red flags to watch out for when he started interviewing elsewhere. Mike now enjoys a collaborative working environment at his new firm and looks forward to growth and success- for himself and his new employer.

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About the Company:

Peterson Technology Partners (PTP) has partnered with some of the biggest Fortune brands to offer excellence of service and best-in-class team building for the last 25 years.

PTP’s diverse and global team of recruiting, consulting, and project development experts specialize in a variety of IT competencies which include:

  • Cybersecurity
  • DevOps
  • Cloud Computing
  • Data Science
  • AI/ML
  • Salesforce Optimization
  • VR/AR

Peterson Technology Partners is an equal opportunities employer. As an industry leader in IT consulting and recruitment, specializing in diversity hiring, we aim to help our clients build equitable workplaces.

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