When managers create an environment that helps empower their employees, some employees will jump on the bandwagon and act empowered right away. But many of them just don’t have the confidence to risk failing or take actions without consulting a supervisor every step of the way.
Here is a seven-step model for encouraging and motivating employees. It will help them build the confidence they need to empower themselves to make decisions and take risks:
1. Help them figure out what they’re good at (or not good at). Are they risk-takers? Do they believe they control the things that happen in their lives? Once they understand their own personality traits, they can address their weaknesses and gain confidence. Some managers give employees a self-assessment tool so they can use it on their own computers and keep the results private.
2. Set goals for behavior changes. Someone who wants to be less risk-averse, for example, could set a goal to take chances during an upcoming project. If possible, tie some sort of perk for the employee to achieving that individual goal.
3. Encourage employees to invest in themselves. The employee who goes to grad school at night or who accepts a special project outside of his normal responsibility is making a sacrifice that will probably pay off. Encourage employees to embrace opportunities by rewarding them for their choices.
4. Reward risk-taking. Make it OK for employees to step outside of their comfort zones without fear of ridicule or punishment—even if they fail. Many workers are afraid to speak up for themselves, present a wild idea or challenge the status quo. That’s especially hard these days. When employees are punished for failing when they take risks, they stop taking them.
5. Work collaboratively. Employees are more likely to achieve their goals or make changes if they let others in on their plans. Managers can help employees get on track by serving as coaches and making resources available.
6. Constantly evaluate and give feedback. Employees have to be able to measure their progress against their goals when they try to achieve self-empowerment. However, most don’t know how. Help your employees develop performance measures. Offer consistent feedback as they work toward change.
7. Foster continuous improvement. Positive reinforcement is the way to do that. Tip: Offer reinforcement, feedback and opportunities for every employee to practice new behavior that moves the organization forward.
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