What would your course of action be if you were asked to get something done: would you rather do it in the way someone tells you to do it, or would you prefer to do it in a way that actually makes sense to you? Unsurprisingly, most studies show that people want it “their” way. Empowered decision-making or employee empowerment allows employees to do things their way while also encouraging them to embrace the issue, take the initiative, and develop various methodologies. When working for a company that creates a compelling shared vision, it is crucial to establish a set of values that support the empowerment of all employees. This is exactly where empowered decision-making comes in and plays an important role in both the employees’ and employers’ lives. Here is everything you need to know about empowered decision-making, what employee empowerment is, and how it can be used as a key element when working on a high-performing organization.
Definition of Empowerment
Empowerment is so much more than absolute power or absolute authority. The definition of empowerment is actually the extent or degree of responsibility given to an employee or a team. When looking into the answer to the question what is empowered decision-making, we can certainly lean on empowerment and what this vast concept entails. Different teams and different individuals will have various degrees of empowerment based on their level of expertise, knowledge, and experience. Therefore, teams who have won over the respect, confidence, and trust of their managers will come across a greater degree of empowerment. In this context, empowerment is the act of identifying the tasks on which a team is trusted to take the initiative independently; in contrast to those tasks, the team must receive approval before proceeding with. Empowerment benefits not only the team members trusted with this initiative, but also the manager that takes a leap in delegating certain assignments.
The Key to Empowered Decision-Making: Motivation
Multiple studies show that empowering employees to make decisions is a major source of motivation for them. Recent data collected over the years clearly shows that people like to do a good job and achieve a certain level of success. They do this best when they are assured that they are empowered and trusted to solve issues, create systems, and take actions – as opposed to following a string of pre-established procedures. The basic idea that lies beneath this strategy is that if employees are presented with room to succeed, they actually will because they will be motivated to come over challenges in order to create space for growth. On the other hand, employers who want to benefit from their team as much as possible need to let them give their best. When organizations allow individuals to do this, they often find problems solved before they even happen or before the news of the problem reaches managerial levels. This, as a result, creates less and less need for managers to solve trivial issues and oversee everything. Employees working on the front line usually know what’s needed to be done best, while top managers cannot be everywhere at the same time.
Advantages of Empowered Decision-Making
As you may have already noticed, empowerment and decision-making go hand-in-hand and perform best when implemented in harmony. Micromanagement, on the other hand, is a deceptive business technique that at first appears productive yet creates a toxic environment. Micromanagement decreases management productivity, frustrates employees, and all-in-all can even hurt business revenue. Advantages of empowered decision-making, on the contrary, couldn’t be more different:
- Empowered decision making frees up managers and improves time management
- It increases employee effort, motivation, and initiative
- Employee empowerment boosts engagement throughout the workplace
How to Empower Your Team to Make Decisions
1. Aim to work toward a common goal, but not an individual path.
When you turn the employee empowerment process into a collaborative concept, employees will feel empowered from the very beginning of the project. Start by stating the goal (OKRs may help here) and asking questions to receive input on navigating the courses of action. You can also conduct a brainstorming session among team members to explore various paths that can be taken. Having a vision for how you want the project to be executed and sharing this vision with them can immensely help your team have a more creative and efficient outlook on the task.
2. Create a strength-based work ethic.
One of the most common team empowerment strategies is to let them use their strengths at work and build up their confidence in order to feel even more empowered. When delegating tasks amongst projects, it is important to do so based on team strengths and weaknesses. To pinpoint these characteristics, you can meet with each team member individually and ask them what they view their individual and their team’s strengths as.
3. Reinforce and reward positive behaviour.
Honest mistakes are bound to happen when you, as a manager, let go of micromanaging and begin to empower your team. Empolyee empowerment methods are not set on eliminating every single mistake or punishing employees that have made one. Turn these errors into teachable moments by providing constructive feedback and helping employees understand what led to the mistake. Rewarding positive behavior is a much more effective method than punishment, which is why positive reinforcement is another important step in empowered decision-making. On a side note, make sure to let your employees know that they have done a good job as soon as you get the chance; if you wait until the end-of-the-year review to show your gratitude, your employee may have left the company because they felt that they were never recognized.
4. Be open to communication.
Micromanagement creates a culture of mistrust with its hovering and nitpicking. Specifying how every little detail of a project should be executed should be the single most important thing you must avoid when building a healthy employee empowerment strategy. When delegating tasks, make sure to state the confidence you have in your team members, but also offer yourself as available to help when certain questions come up. Within a project, some decisions may be more significant and critical than others. There also may be ones that your team members still wish to consult you on, even though they are positively sure of the course of action. Regardless of the situation, it is essential to first ask the employee about their ideas before providing your way of handling things, and working from there to come up with a joint and appropriate solution.
5. Encourage and mentor your team members.
You need to model positive behavior yourself if you want higher performance from your teams. Making mentorship a priority and creating a culture where your team members feel respected is key to empowered decision-making. Ask your employees about their career goals, then offer them strength-based tasks and development opportunities to help them get there.