The Powerful Effects Of Empowering Your Staff
“Empowerment is more than giving people additional responsibility – to be empowered, people need to feel empowered.”
-Matthew Nash, Leadership Success
This month we will be focusing on an often overlooked, but highly influential factor to employee productivity, growth and job satisfaction –
What do you do to empower your staff?
‘Empowerment’ can be considered a somewhat subjective term – however when it comes to your staff, I’m sure you are all doing something to try and help them reach this level of confidence in their roles.
But what does empowerment actually mean when we use it in reference to our staff?
According to Matthew Nash from Leadership Success, he believes we certainly do what we can to empower our staff by equating empowerment with more freedom, control over outcomes and power to make decisions.
But we may be missing the point.
Nash believes that not only do we need to act in accordance with giving our staff a sense of empowerment, but to actually enable a staff member to feel empowered – which can be made up of entirely different things to what we think will empower them.
So why is empowerment considered to be so important to building a positive and productive workplace culture?
Benefits of feeling empowered in the workplace.
According to Nash, there are a myriad of researched reasons as to how the feeling of empowerment within employees impacts on a workplace.
These include a significant increase in employee productivity and effectiveness, reduced staff turnover intentions and higher job satisfaction.
In one study, leaders who felt more empowered, were perceived by coworkers to be more inspirational, innovative and knowledgeable – demonstrating a connection between empowerment and perceived confidence in leaders.
Other benefits include a higher commitment and loyalty to an organisation, increase in positive behaviours and less job strain.
In many cases it is common to give staff more authority and responsibility in a bid to make a staff member feel more empowered, however this may be doing the exact opposite.
The Two Dimensions of Empowerment
1. The sharing of power
Generally, this is the more known idea of empowerment, which is otherwise known as social-structural power.
It involves enabling power in decision making, listening and taking on board ideas + contributions, and giving staff more control over their work.
Nash explains that the general idea of this is to empower lower levels of an organisation to make decisions and reduces red tape and bureaucracy which can essentially slow down a process of deliberation.
In doing this, it has a double benefit for leaders.
“[Empowering staff to make decisions] also frees up time for upper management to think about how to move the organisation forward rather than being bogged down with routine operational issues,” said Nash.
2. The feeling of empowerment
Psychological empowerment is often the missing puzzle piece when it comes to making staff really feel a sense of control and autonomy.
We can simply give a staff member the permission and opportunity to make decisions, and take on board more responsibility, but if a staff member doesn’t feel as if they are competent to do this, this could have the opposite effect.
According to Nash, there are four critical areas of psychological empowerment that must all be met.
If one or more are absent, then empowerment is limited or not possible.
- Meaning – Feeling that your work is important and meaningful.
- Competence – Feeling confident in your abilities to do your job well.
- Self-determination (autonomy) – Feeling that you have control over how you do your job.
- Impact – Feeling that you have an impact on what happens in your team/department.
“Giving employees more power does not necessarily empower them,” explains Nash.
“It does in the sense that they have more actual power, but it doesn’t guarantee they will feel empowered.”
Next week we will cover in more detail four things that are preventing your staff from feeling empowered, and what company culture factors are influencing this.
To start empowering your team, discover how the 90 Day Culture Accelerator Online Program can help.