Getting In The Driver's Seat: 7 Benefits Of Empowering Staff To Make Decisions

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Staff development is not a new organizational theme. Every business wants to learn how to empower employees so they can do their best work possible.

In fact, the Training Institute estimates that in 2019 alone, learning organizations spent $3.5 billion on Global Leadership Development.

However, a look at staff empowerment, an aspect of staff development, deserves particular attention; not the least because millennials clamor for it more than the staff of their predecessor generations did.

Employers take note because staff empowerment benefits the whole organization, including its bottom line. But first, it's important to define empowerment.

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What does "empowerment" mean in an employee context?

The definitions of "empowerment" vary. But, essentially, staff empowerment means that employees are granted a degree of control or autonomy over their tasks and workflow.

However, three conditions are critical to the transformation of this newfound control and autonomy into benefits:

Staff feels self-empowered.
Supervisors and management, in general, relinquish some power and adopt empowering management styles.
The organizational structure and processes support an empowering environment.

The benefits discussed here are highly interdependent. Strengthening one enhances all others.

An appreciation for how each contributes to empowerment and ultimately to a better work environment, innovation, productivity, improved commitment, and profits reveals the importance of investing in all.

Fortunately, there are many successful approaches to empowering staff and diverse opportunities to devise a plan that fits your unique workplace.

Here are the 7 benefits of empowering employees to make decisions. 

1. Employees gain more confidence.

Self-empowered people are confident people. They are able to objectively assess a situation, accurately appraise their role, make better decisions, take responsibility for their actions, and constructively sort out and resolve issues.

They are self-directed, accountable, and take initiative with conviction.

A confident and self-directed employee is apt to identify, design, and execute tasks consistent with their employers' vision, objectives, and work processes.

They are what some people might call low-maintenance and high-functioning. With traits like these, it's easy to imagine the benefits of cultivating confidence in the staff at all levels of the organization.

Of course, confidence is not just a function of the workplace environment and delegation of responsibilities. Many qualified and high-functioning employees lack confidence due to their upbringing or past experiences.

While productive and apparently well-functioning, they may fall short of their full potential. Their health and well-being may suffer, as well.

To fully empower staff, employers can offer coaching, workshops, and other forms of assistance that can help them shed the limiting beliefs and emotional conditioning that damage their confidence and impinge on their performance.

In addition, it's critically important to establish an atmosphere of trust combined with regular training to equip staff with the appropriate hard and soft skills they need to confidently and effectively do their jobs.

Otherwise, confident staff can be inadvertently undermined, and choose to seek employment elsewhere.

2. They trust each other more.

Trust is fundamental and both a contributor to and outcome of empowerment. Fernando Flores, a global leader in business process innovation, developed a useful model of trust-building in the workplace.

His innovative concept of authentic trust is most significant to the empowerment of staff. To paraphrase, authentic trust requires self-trust as well as the trust of others.

Immediately, you can see the connection to self-confidence.

The model suggests that experience, interactions, and relationships nourish trust. Simply delegating responsibilities without shared trust and understanding does not engender relationships.

In fact, it can have a detrimental effect. An employee might view the delegation of responsibilities with suspicion and increased stress, challenging their self-reliance, confidence, and innovativeness.

This is a real potential when an organization begins to shift the work culture away from a hierarchical or control-based management structure.

3. They are inspired to work towards innovation.

Empowerment and trust underpin creativity and innovation. A confident and enabled staff feels safe and inspired to use creativity and intuition and challenge hard skills to effect positive change.

Broadly cultivated authentic trust and empowerment draws upon the diversity in talent and interests held within the overall staff accelerating innovation, productivity gains, and returns.

A work environment characterized by confidence, pride, and commitment can induce engagement and generate the added benefit of facilitating the alignment of innovation with the organization's vision, goals, and objectives.

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4. They take pride in their work.

When employees are empowered, they feel more responsible for the positive results of their work effort. They can take pride in their work.

When management empowers staff throughout the workplace and encourages constructive and supportive collaboration with co-workers as well as managers, employees develop a sense of pride in the workplace, their work, and their employer.

5. They develop a sense of commitment.

The pleasure and satisfaction that derive from a sense of pride breeds enthusiasm, engagement, and commitment, which leads to higher employee retention.

Proud and committed employees speak well of their employers, bolstering their reputation, which contributes to improved ratings from Glassdoor and other employer-ranking systems.

In other words, empowerment, confidence, pride, and commitment enhance the learning organization's brand.

6. There is less oversight time and lower costs.

An additional benefit of self-empowered, confident staff is how much time and cost management saves. Since the staff is more self-reliant and responsible, less oversight and course correction is needed.

Furthermore, they're more inclined to seek assistance only when necessary without trepidation and receive advice with an open mind. This facilitates trust, communication, and problem resolution.

When supervisors can trust their subordinates by empowering staff to make decisions, the whole organization operates more efficiently and productively, which positively contributes to the bottom line.

7. There is retention.

These interrelated attributes of empowerment, authentic trust, pride, and commitment reduce staff attrition and create a more stable work environment.

Not all companies and organizations share the same vision, priorities, and approaches to employee empowerment. As a consequence, the outcomes and level of benefits derived from their employee development programs will differ.

Nevertheless, the benefits of empowering staff to make decisions presented above arguably represent a range of likely returns to their investments.

It may be something for your learning organization to consider, as well.

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Patricia Bonnard, Ph.D., ACC is a certified International Coaching Federation (ICF) leadership coach and a certified Martha Beck life coach. For more information, contact her or visit her website.

This article was originally published at starchaser-healingarts.com. Reprinted with permission from the author.