Do you feel like a superhero every morning when you walk into the office, confident in your ability to complete all the tasks at hand? Or are you feeling a little stuck with stagnant powers and dwindling interest? If you fall into the latter category, you may have an empowerment issue.
Great work culture empowers employees. When they don’t feel empowered to make decisions or participate in certain projects, especially those that impact the company’s key initiatives, employees may disengage from their responsibilities and struggle with unhappiness at work.
Employee empowerment is, of course, a two-way street. Managers want – and often expect – employees to take initiative, but they should also provide the mentorship and resources that enable employees to take ownership of their successes. In fact, a recent meta-analysis published in the Journal of Organizational Behavior found that empowering leaders have much more success in inspiring employee creativity. Added to that, leaders that empower their employees are more likely to earn trust from their teams and influence effective performance.
Ultimately, a symbiotic relationship between managers and their subordinates fosters empowered employees who are happy in their positions. While you can certainly lean on managers for additional support, there are ways to seek your own personal empowerment in the workplace. Follow these three steps to increase your confidence, productivity and satisfaction at work:
1. Clarify your goals and expectations
The first step to feeling empowered is knowing where you’re headed. However, if your manager fails to define or communicate clear directions and expectations, you’ll be at a loss. Results from our recent workplace accountability study suggested that this situation is all too common. Of the employees surveyed, 85 percent of them could not confidently relate their company’s overarching goals.
If you’re unsure about companywide, departmental or personal goals and expectations, reach out to your leaders for clarification. If you need more, ask about how your role contributes to the company’s objectives so you can feel empowered to complete tasks and projects that count for something. Taking initiative to understand how your organization defines success can provide the boost you need to cross the finish line.
2. Find a mentor you can lean on
Next up: Find your work parent. The best candidates for this role are those who you already trust and have a good rapport with – but that isn’t to say you can’t develop that kind of relationship with others in the office. A mentor acts as a guide, helping you define your purpose and meaning in the workplace. Most likely a seasoned professional, your mentor can also support you in staying aligned with the company’s overall vision while simultaneously fulfilling your own career ambitions. This understanding can boost both your professional and personal satisfaction.
Keep in mind that this mentor may not be your manager. Added to that, you may not find the perfect fit within your company. You can always find a career coach outside of your organization to help you develop a set of specific, achievable goals to work toward. This mentor is also the person you can lean on when you’re desperate to talk to someone with a relatively unbiased but empathetic perspective. Look for mentors at networking or volunteering events and industry meet-ups, or search for them via social media or your university alumni directory.
At the end of the day, mentoring is about people empowering people. Your mentor may find that guiding you helps them find more fulfillment and enhanced job satisfaction as well as foster their own professional and leadership development.
3. Solicit feedback from management
The unparalleled method to improve your skills and facilitate professional growth is to seek feedback. We’re not talking a one-time deal, either. It’s worthwhile to ask for feedback all the time, from as many different perspectives as possible.
It’s important to note that, in general, feedback should be continuous and pertain to both appreciative and constructive comments. However, according to our accountability survey, 80 percent of employees feel they only receive feedback when they make mistakes or perform poorly. This punitive feedback is partly to blame for a lack of empowerment in the workplace, because it creates a cloud of shame that causes employees to feel even more stuck.
Empowerment and development stems from feedback that pinpoints what employees are doing well and constructive guidance that helps them improve. If you’re not getting this healthy mix of feedback on a regular basis, reach out to your colleagues and managers for their insights and opinions on your performance. Remember that the right kind of feedback should leave you feeling energized and empowered to move forward with your career.
Feedback is also a two-way street, so don’t be afraid to offer your own insight to your peers. These productive conversations can make a huge difference not only for individual success, but also for the company’s culture and overall performance.
Improving empowerment in the workplace through accountability
Once you feel empowered in the workplace, you’ll start making significant progress toward your personal goals as well as the companywide ones you’re involved in. Such boosted morale empowers company success, making it a win-win situation for you and your organization.
While personal empowerment is a critical piece of the puzzle, no employee or team can reach their full potential without a workplace environment that’s built on accountability. Every member of the team must have a clear understanding of the company’s key results, be proactive about seeking feedback and collaborate across team to achieve objectives. It’s all possible with empowerment strategies, high levels of employee engagement, top-performing leaders and teams that hold each other accountable to continue meeting and exceeding goals.