Empowering Staff

It’s about creating a space where your staff are empowered

Shanna 2022

I have had experience in coaching, management, and consultancy. 

Here are some articles to inspire your workplace.

Managers Empowering Staff to Develop Themselves

Why managers who develop their staff’s performance with coaching, create leaders.

When managers have a high performing team, the flow-on effect ripples through the business.  By adopting the skills of coaching, staff are empowered to lead their own development. 

Imagine having more time to focus on other demands and projects.  Imagine engaged, proactive, and productive staff. 

Coaching Study Results

A reputable 2013 study by The Institute for Employment Studies, explores the employee’s method of working and their work engagement after a coaching program.  The research reveals, “coaching had impacted positively on both the way in which they worked and their feelings towards work.” 

In regards to staff development, results show they “develop new work skills” and “deal efficiently with unexpected events.”  These effects are driven by giving them the tools they can use to develop themselves.

Development Tools

For example, having employees choose an area of development that they want to focus on is one successful tool, because it results in accountability. 

It leads them to look at their strengths and weaknesses, and where they could benefit from developing their role. It also influences regular productive dialogue between manager and employee.

Developing Communication

Imagine building a ‘how-to guide’ for communicating with each staff member to their personality style.  By observing how they perceive a situation, project, opportunity, and barrier we can understand their actions and how to interact with them.

Steve Zaffron and Dave Logan, authors of The Three Laws of Performance, write how their first law “rejects the commonsense view of actions”, because “how people perform correlates to how situations occur to them.” 

Understanding how they arrive at the solution can be driven with open-ended questions. 

This allows the staff member to:

  • Realise the process they use
  • Provoke alternative methods
  • Develop problem-solving skills
  • Improve method of future situations

“Ask them questions, mostly open-ended, that provide insight into how those situations are occurring to them.  Keep going until you can see how their actions perfectly fit how the situation occurs to them.  (You’ll often find that this process alone goes a long way toward developing trust and cooperation.)” .

The Three Laws of Performance, Page 29

Open-ended question examples:

  • How do you think that situation went?
  • What are the benefits/opportunities of this situation?
  • Was there anything you could have done that you didn’t realise at the time?
  • What are the next steps?
  • How could you improve on this situation if it arises again?
Empowering Staff

Accordingly, these techniques of being nonjudgemental and using open-ended questions, create the foundations of a coaching program.  Other building blocks to consider, are helpful methods in accordance to the individual.

  • Challenges
  • Practical Brainstorming
  • Success Stories
  • Role Plays
  • Games

Most importantly this is successful when dedicated time is allowed for them to develop.

As Steve and Dave summarise,

“Leaders who empower others to rewrite and realise futures can transform any situation, no matter how “impossible” it may seem.” 

The Three Laws of Performance

How to Start

1. Discuss as a team what, why, and how.

Focus Examples:

  • Organisational Skills
  • Companion Selling
  • New Accounts/Clients
  • Communication
  • Closing Sales

2. Next, they go away and do a brainstorm around their focus, and share it with the manager when they are ready.

Things to brainstorm:

  • Strengths and weaknesses
  • Ideas
  • Tools and support needed

In the days ahead the staff will drive themselves accordingly and depending on their needs, the manager, business tools or external sources will be required. 

Simple check in’s or a designated follow-up chat about their progress, creates a focal point in the conversation, bringing a constructive element to relationships with each member.

In Summary,

this is one way to evolve the current KPI format which can be seen as a blanket approach whereby neither side follows through on how to get to the target. I have seen this in practice and when staff see results, they become more engaged, proactive, and productive. 

Imagine a team, continuously striving to exceed the focuses they choose to work on as they develop their role.  Imagine having a high performing team who are constantly headhunted.  Imagine being that manager.

Coaching Basics for Empowering Staff

12 ways you can change your interactions with staff, so they feel empowered

  • Be non – judgemental
  • Understand their unique way of doing things by asking open ended questions during or after a situation
  • Influence them to self-analyse by prompting them with open ended questions as to how they arrived at the situation or solution
  • Don’t interrupt and allow them to finish their answer or train of thought
  • Recognise and praise throughout interactions
  • Highlight their qualities and strengths with examples you witnessed or heard
  • Customise interactions to the individual by using methods that stimulate them
    • Challenges
    • Brainstorming
    • Success stories
    • Role plays
    • Games
    • Powerpoint presentations
  • Shape targets to the individual with methods that drive them (rather than a team approach)
    • Dollars
    • Numbers
    • Success stories
    • Growth %
  • Know how they best receive information by talking with them about your current team and individual communication format and how this is currently being received
  • Know and support their career path by training and investing in that area
  • Be Specific and direct with instructions by knowing how each reacts to your information
  • Allow them to choose dates for deadlines and times to concentrate on development

Empowering Employee Introductions

Empowering employees starts at the beginning. The most important thing on your agenda is the time you spend with them on day one…

What is the best introduction you have had when starting a new job? 

Have you ever had a manager on the first day, ask you if you wanted a coffee?  Did you ever just sit there and talk about their business philosophy and expectations?  Have you walked away the first day and thought ‘wow, what an awesome boss, what an awesome company’?  

Building the foundations for a professional relationship, with open dialogue, can start on the first day. 

Rules that Empower Staff

We all have rules, know yours, write them down, fine-tune them and make them consistent. 

How well you communicate the company culture, rules, their role, and expectations, creates the person’s ethics.  Rules are important, it sets boundaries, where everyone is on the same page.

Include your managing and communication style, so they understand your actions and reactions. 

An Empowering Discussion

When you spend time with new employees, one on one, you establish a healthy level of communication from the beginning.

Block out time in your agenda for them, this is your opportunity to discuss your business with them.  You can cover topics about misunderstandings or misinterpretations and what to do when they arise. 

Most importantly try to balance the conversation with talking and listening.

Conversation Suggestions:

  1. Business Statement
  2. Business Strategy
  3. Business Objective
  4. Business Standards
  5. Business Vision
  6. Your philosophy on work
  7. Expectations
  8. Their Role
  9. Their roles accountability

Building Value and Respect

If you have a conversation rather than talking to them, your employee will feel valued and respected.  In return, the employee will value and respect you.  If you felt like this on your first day, wouldn’t you feel like you were being introduced and accepted all in one, into a great team and the best business you have ever worked for? 

How to create a mutual environment:

  • Treat them like an adult
  • Be committed to the conversation
  • Show your interest in them as a new team member
  • Value their new role
  • Listen and explore their questions

READ ABOUT COACHING BASICS FOR EMPOWERING STAFF HERE

What’s the Reflection of Your Business?

If your employee has respect for you, they will have respect for your business.  The work the employee does is the reflection of who they are, yet who they are at work is influenced by the business culture and environment. 

If you look at it from that angle, then the business is a reflection of the manager. 

The Expanded Version of an Introduction

After their time with you, consider the introduction timetable.

Remember when you were told and shown everything with back-to-back training, then told to start running.  Is this the best method?

Here are a few suggestions:

  • Mix the introduction up between training, preparation, and in-field – this would suggest that in some roles, an introduction could expand over 2-3 months.
  • Have another colleague with the new employee on and off over a few months.
  • Allow them time to organise and prepare themselves with the tools you have provided them.  They need the time to set their workstation up.
  • After the introduction, give them ongoing support with regular meetings on their progress and achievements.

If you look at your current introduction, consider investing your time to align it with your companies vision.  Each employee is important, they each play a role in how your business functions.  How important they are to you can be measured by the dedication you have in remodeling your introduction to empower your staff. 

Be that business that everyone wants to work for.

Empower Your Employees Strengths

For employees to excel, we can explore their strengths and help empower them to develop their talents.

How do you empower your staff? 

What time is dedicated to development? 

A great place to start can be building on their strengths. The objective is to empower them to develop themselves.  When they feel empowered, they affect change in themselves.  When you work with their positive aspects, they feel valued. 

So, if you want to create an encouraging atmosphere that’s teaming with open communication, try focusing on their assets.

Why Build on Strengths?

In a technical report by Asplund, Lopez, Hodges, & Harter, in 2009, data showed that when managers and employees received strengths feedback:

  • Employee turnover rates were 14.9% lower
  • 12.5% increase in productivity

This report was a part of a development and validation project to support utilising strength-based development programs. 

Specifically applying Don Cliftons, CliftonStrengths

More than 90% of Fortune 500 companies have used this strategy. 

The global movement towards using our strengths to develop ourselves and others was influenced by Clifton who posed the question;

“What would happen if we studied what was right with people versus what’s wrong with people?”

Don Clifton

His 2004 book ‘Now, Discover Your Strengths – How to Develop Your Talents and Those of the People You Manage’ went on to inspire ‘StrengthsFinder 2.0’.  Building on the original concepts, the formula can be easily used in empowering your staff and your relationship with them.

A more recent Gallup analysis in 2015 showed:

  • Up to 29% increase in profit.
  • Building a strengths-based workplace can help increase customer engagement by up to 7% and employee engagement by up to 15%.

Recommended Read for a deep dive into the data:

How Employees’ Strengths Make Your Company Stronger

Employees who use their strengths are more engaged, perform better, are less likely to leave — and boost your bottom line

BY SUSAN SORENSON

“Gallup’s data show that simply learning their strengths makes employees 7.8% more productive, and teams that focus on strengths every day have 12.5% greater productivity.”   

Identifying Your Employees Strengths

Day-to-day communication and in-house/field time with staff can be packed full of highlights into how they operate, react, and act.  Just being aware of this concept can open your perception to take note of what makes them tick, motivated and happy.

In ‘Now, Discover Your Strengths,’ you will find other behaviours to observe, such as;

“Pay close attention to… spontaneous reactions, yearning, rapid learning, and satisfactions.” 

Page 66.

So, you are wanting to make a change, and there is no better time than today, look at your diary and send an invite out to the team.  Use this meeting to communicate what a strength-based workplace environment is and what it will look like in your organisation.  All you need to decide is how you are going to identify everybody’s assets.  You can learn them together over time and embrace them along the way, alternatively have one on one sessions or a group workshop using some of the below resources. 

Questions

  • What energizes you?
  • How would you describe yourself in the role you do?
  • What do you get complimented on most?
  • Describe a successful day. What made it successful?
  • What aspects of your role make you happy?
  • What is one of your biggest achievements in this role and career?
  • What are some of your biggest challenges and how did you overcome them?
  • What parts of your role are you best at?
  • What are the things that you have had to learn in your role that you were quick to understand and action?
  • How do you stay motivated?
  • What part of your role are you continuously putting effort into developing?
  • What tasks do you always tick off your to-do list first?
  • Do you prefer starting tasks or finishing them?
  • Do you prefer the big picture or the small details?
  • How do you feel about deadlines?

Big Five Personality Test Template

Ten-Item Personality Inventory PDFDOWNLOAD

Free Online; Big Five Personality Tests

Ways to Develop Strengths

  • Have each member know each other’s
  • Incorporate it into every conversation you have with each member
  • Mould targets, goals, and KPI’s around them
  • Have the team individually or as a group, brainstorm ways they could develop their strengths via courses, workshops, or coaching and invest in them
  • Have the team work together through mentorships
  • Coach employees to align their strengths to their role
  • Know each employees career ambitions and help them develop where they need to get to where they want

Services

Websites with options for; individuals, coaches, teams, and organisations, with either one-off reports or interactive platform access and consultancy services. 

The Historic Mistake

There are many entrepreneurs, leaders, and psychologists who have contributed to the information we have today around this subject.  Using the studies, books, and available services, you can change the culture and environment of your workplace in a few easy steps.  One of the leading psychologists, Martin Seligman, has an inspiring TED Talk The New Era of Positive Psychology, where you can understand the science behind positive psychology.  It is an introduction to yesterday’s psychology and today’s psychology. 

“In our rush to do something about people in trouble, in our rush to do something about repairing damage, it never occurred to us to develop interventions to make people happier—positive interventions.”

Martin Seligman, The New Era of Positive Psychology

Today’s positive concept can be embraced at work and at home.  Not only will your staff develop themselves in their role, but you are also giving them the opportunity to use these tools in their personal life.  When you invest in your staff, you invest in yourself, your career, and your company.  These coaching techniques retain and cultivate a great team.  Do you want an engaged, high-performing team with a direction?  Or is the real question, can you afford for your team’s strengths to lay dormant? 

Read What Other Experts in the Field Have to Say

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