How to empower your people to be their best

Melody Tomlinson, co-creator and licensor of national personal and organisational development programme Performance Booster, explains how empowered employees will benefit your business, and ultimately your bottom line…

How have leadership styles shifted in recent times?
The trend has been toward a more consultative and coaching leadership style, rather than a more traditional autocratic approach. The current workforce requires their leadership to be more inclusive, open and flexible. People are more concerned about the ‘why’ of the business rather than the ‘what and how.’ Happy employees make for happy clients, which translates into Rands and cents in the bank.

People want to be part of a brand, but more importantly they want to make a difference. Companies involved in charity drives instil a great deal of loyalty and pride in their employees.

How can these shifts benefit your business?hands clapping
Encouraging people from all levels of your organisation to join the wider conversation inspires constructive and creative inputs. Take the tech start-up space as an example; many of these businesses have achieved massive growth by allowing everyone – even clients – to contribute to the collective creative space.

This sense of inclusion makes your people feel part of the overall ‘vision’ of the company and creates loyalty and pride and thus lower turnover of staff, great retention of intellect and skills and a saving on the bottom line. This kind of culture is likely to attract dynamic, young people who aspire to the company’s vision not to simply having a job.

How can you ’empower’ employees?
Be clear about your intentions and motives. Let your team know what it will mean for them and detail the expected outcomes. If you simply arrive at work on a bicycle on Monday, act super cool, say nothing in the meeting you usually run and tell everyone that they can make their own decisions from now on, they’ll probably just think you’re in the midst of a mid-life crisis…

Remove hierarchical structures by creating smaller, dynamic and diverse task teams. Time out of the office can also be motivating and energising. One of our clients recently took 16 potential leaders within their organisation on a three-week trip to Europe to visit competitors and exhibitions. It was a great opportunity to interact out of the normal business context and resulted in the growth of each person and the team as a whole.

Task teams to research and develop specific – not job related – projects. There are many different ways to take people out of their comfort zones without expecting them to bungee jump.

Hold your meetings in non-traditional spaces. Take the team to the Botanical Gardens, a funky restaurant or walk around an art gallery in silence. Once back at the office the new energy and momentum will soon lead to creative ideas.

Approach the process holistically by making internal changes, bringing external facilitators and coaches on board if necessary, changing the environment to stimulate creativity, and changing the workplace ‘language’ to encourage risk taking.

How do ’empowered’ employees change your culture?
They definitely take on more ownership and with this comes responsibility and accountability. They become actively engaged and try to make plans and take decisions for the good of the business, not just themselves. They are less likely to fear consequence and more likely to share their mistakes and ask for help. You will find that a ‘we’ rather than a ‘me’ culture develops over time. They will come to realise that ‘attitude is contagious’ and that attitude can ultimately decide the fate of the business in the long term.

What do ’empowered’ employees mean for your bottom line?
Empowered employees add ‘zeroes’ to the bottom line. They become actively engaged, solution oriented and take ownership of the tasks at hand. The client becomes ‘our client’ not just a client of the business.