Empowerment: Definition and How To Apply It in the Workplace

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated October 5, 2022

Published April 22, 2019

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Illustration of a person flexing their muscles.

Empowerment is the process of becoming more confident and prepared to make important decisions and complete tasks. Throughout your career, you may have a variety of opportunities to empower both yourself and other professionals in the workplace. Learning about empowerment and exploring how to empower yourself and others can help you become more motivated to succeed in your position while also providing your colleagues with encouragement. 

In this article, we explain what empowerment is, discuss the ways you can empower yourself and others in the workplace and list the benefits of doing so. 

What is empowerment?

Empowerment is the practice of motivating yourself or others to accomplish important goals or objectives. It helps enable people to take initiative, make decisions for themselves and solve complex problems. Companies often empower their employees by providing them with the opportunity to develop their skills and offering them resources and unique responsibilities to advance their careers. 

Professional empowerment requires you to use your skills and talents in a way that benefits both your career and employer while enhancing productivity. By empowering others in the organization to help achieve the company's mission and long-term goals, you can also increase the effectiveness of the workplace and improve trust. Whether empowerment occurs on the organizational level or on the individual level, it can be especially important for an efficient workplace.

Related: What Is Employee Empowerment and Why Is It Important?

How to empower yourself at work

Taking steps to improve your own empowerment while at work can help you progress in your position more quickly and potentially even help you achieve long-term success in your chosen career. Here are a few ways you can increase your motivation and empower yourself: 

1. Learn what your employer expects of you

The first step to feeling more empowered while at work is defining your role in the company and learning what your employer's expectations are. Review the mission, vision and annual goals of the company where you work.

In addition, meet with your manager or direct supervisor to gain a better understanding of how your team and individual goals for the year help to accomplish bigger organizational goals. List the individual responsibilities you have in your current position and the duties you might expect in future positions and review them regularly. 

Related: 10 Tips for Speaking to Your Manager Effectively

2. Choose a mentor

Working with a mentor can help you define your personal career goals and empower you to achieve them while helping you feel more engaged at work. Try to choose a mentor who works in the same industry or company as you. You may be able to locate a mentor by attending company networking events or leveraging your professional network.

In selecting a mentor, it's also beneficial to consider professionals who already attained the successes you want to achieve. After choosing the right mentor, meet with them regularly to discuss your career preferences and gain valuable insights. 

Related: How To Choose a Mentor in 5 Steps

3. Ask for consistent feedback

Ask for feedback from your colleagues and professionals who work closely with you. Gaining feedback from your peers and managers can help you gain a more detailed understanding of your performance. This can help increase your motivation to succeed by allowing you to understand what your strengths and weaknesses are. 

Related: How To Ask for Feedback at the Workplace in 7 Steps

4. Communicate with your supervisor

Communicate with your direct supervisor or manager and inform them of your desire to feel more empowered at work. Meet with them regularly to discuss how you might begin working toward achieving your specific career goals. In addition, ask them what careers are available in the company and where they feel your skills might be most useful. 

Related: Best Strategies and Tips for Speaking to the Manager

5. Invest in your learning

Consider taking a course outside of work to help you improve your professional skills or enrolling in a training program. By increasing your knowledge, you can become better prepared for a variety of unique challenges and achieve your professional goals more easily.

It may also be beneficial to meet with other professionals who are participating in the same course or training program. As you learn, you can empower each other to apply your knowledge to the workplace. 

Related: 10 Steps To Learn New Skills (With Tips)

How to empower others at work

If you're in a management or leadership role, it may also be important to empower your team or department to increase productivity. Here are some ways you can empower others in the workplace:

1. Build trust

It can be crucial that you trust employees to complete certain tasks and achieve goals on their own. When you demonstrate to employees or colleagues that you trust them, you can empower them to perform at their best.

Allow employees the opportunity to learn from their mistakes and educate them on how to best avoid making the same mistake. Communicate your expectations clearly and ensure that employees understand what to prioritize. 

Related: How To Build Trust as a Manager (Plus Tips)

2. Implement feedback

Asking employees what they need and how you might help them can help you empower them to complete tasks more quickly. For example, if you notice an employee having difficulty completing a task, consider asking if they'd be willing to accept your assistance.

Let employees know that you value their opinions and that you're interested in improving the work environment. Whenever possible, encourage them to provide you with constructive feedback and use that feedback to improve work processes.

Related: 5 Examples of How Employees Can Give Feedback to Managers

3. Offer professional development opportunities 

Create professional development opportunities like mentorship programs and specialized training sessions to help employees develop their skill sets and advance within the organization. These opportunities can also reduce confusion on your team and ensure that the employees you're responsible for managing have the chance to improve in their roles.

Make an effort to encourage employees to enhance their professional development. Also, consider sharing your own experience and knowledge with them to create a more self-sufficient work environment.

Related: 11 Ways To Improve Employee Development

4. Help to educate 

Make any instructional materials and resources easily accessible to employees to increase autonomy. Consider creating a shared file or folder for employees to access your materials and educate them on the company's resources periodically to ensure that their knowledge is current.

Providing employees with an easy way to access the information they need can help improve productivity and increase understanding. In addition, engage with newer employees and offer to train them on the basic processes the team uses regularly to help them become more comfortable in their new positions. 

Related: How To Effectively Train and Develop Employees

5. Demonstrate your appreciation and recognize limitations 

Making an effort to express your appreciation for others in the workplace can help empower them to continue to work efficiently while also improving morale. Providing positive feedback to employees who demonstrate responsibility and address their mistakes can help them feel valued, which can foster a more positive and empowering work environment.

It's also beneficial to recognize the limitations of others in the workplace. Knowing the limitations of employees can help you ensure that they don't feel overwhelmed and allow you to provide them with more meaningful tasks to better contribute to their professional goals. 

Related: Top 40 Top Ideas To Show Appreciation for Your Employees

Benefits of empowerment in the workplace

Empowerment allows employees to address important problems in the workplace and work toward achieving essential company goals. Here are some additional benefits of empowerment within the workplace:

  • It helps improve job performance. Employees who feel empowered are often more likely to commit to their tasks and develop creative solutions on their own, rather than relying on their manager or supervisor.

  • It helps increase trust. Employees who feel empowered rather than micromanaged may also develop more positive relationships with company leadership, resulting in a more trusting company culture.

  • It increases motivation. An increased feeling of empowerment can help employees feel more engaged and satisfied with their work while motivating them to achieve their goals and become more productive.

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