Tips to Empower Employees
From performance reviews to admitting mistakes, Managers can always be looking for opportunities to empower employees. Project Managers can become too focused on the project part of their title and need to remember that people are the main project resource.
Here are eight phrases you can begin to use today to empower employees:
During performance reviews: ‘Your feedback is more important than mine.’
Yes, you need to give specific actionable feedback to employees during a performance review. More importantly, you want to hear how the employee perceives themselves and their performance. Emphasise that they can talk as well as listen and participate in crafting the review to their needs.
‘Remind me later’
Employees understand if you cannot answer a question or respond immediately. Try saying: ‘That sounds great, and I value your opinion on this, so make sure we make a time to discuss it properly.’ Or ‘I really want to understand what you are saying, can we have a coffee later and explore it more?’
‘Thanks for that feedback, do you have a solution?’
As Managers or Project Managers, you naturally want employees to give feedback, raise problems and flag issues that require attention. However, don’t be afraid of asking your employees to use their initiative and thinking skills to present you with one or more solution to every problem. Your job is to evaluate the merit of solutions and either challenge further thinking or gratefully accept the good idea that has been presented.
‘Superstars are important but equally so are great attitudes’
Some employees provide great individual contributions, but lack interpersonal skills or soft skills. These personalities are key to a high performing team but can inadvertently rub other members the wrong way. Try to emphasise the importance of working as a team to every employee, and if necessary provide training or team building sessions to upskill staff where needed.
‘Tell me the bad news first’
Everyone likes to hear good news, but in business it is equally important to hear bad news. Avoid chastising employees if they need to deliver bad news. Try saying ‘thanks for telling me quickly, I’m glad I know and let’s get onto it now.’ This approach can turn a potential negative into a positive by encouraging proactive response. Your team will find it easy to be transparent around you and you’ll discover problems sooner.
‘Hey, that’s great, tell me how you did that’
Employees who blow their own trumpet aren’t necessarily egotistical, it’s more likely that they are feeling insecure about themselves or their position on your team. Rather than feign interest in an employee’s accomplishments with a polite ‘Good job’, stop and ask for details. Take an interest in your employee’s accomplishment by asking open-ended questions such as: ‘How did you do that?’, ‘What were the steps?’, ‘How do you feel now?’ By doing this you will boost the self-esteem and empower your employees.
‘Please tell me when I muck up’
Great managers will encourage constructive criticism among their employees and themselves. Develop an open environment, where people feel free to give you feedback when you do well, and when you could do better. Establishing this level of rapport between employees and management takes time, but if you persevere and reinforce your openness to feedback often, you’ll find that trust will establish.
Demonstrate to your team that it is ok to admit your mistakes. Don’t dwell on these situations, just apologise quickly and sincerely with as few words as possible. Never blame other people or make excuses for your mistakes. Act swiftly to correct your mistake so you can move on as soon as possible. Your team will respect you, and most importantly, you will respect yourself.
If you use at least one of these eight employee communication tips every day, you will empower employees, helping you to become a better leader as well as a more effective manager.
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