How to Empower Yourself and Others

By Indeed Editorial Team

December 29, 2020

Empowerment is the process of encouraging an individual to think, behave, manage, take action and make decisions toward their career goals. Being empowered means feeling in control of your own work environment and knowing you are trusted to make decisions about your responsibilities. 

In this article, we will define empowerment and discuss ways you might become more empowered in the workplace.

What is empowerment?

Empowerment is the practice of sharing authority, information and rewards with others. Empowerment should enable people to take initiative, make decisions and solve problems.

The idea of empowerment is that giving others skills, resources, opportunities, and responsibilities will promote career growth and increase satisfaction in the workplace. Empowerment means controlling your own work environment and using your skills and talents in a way that benefits you and your organization, leading to more productivity and better outcomes.

Empowerment can also be thought of as a personal work philosophy and strategy. Empowered employees who operate within the framework of a company and its mission and goals can increase the productivity and effectiveness of the workplace, instead of constantly waiting for permission and feedback. They become more responsible and accountable as a result of self-direction.

How to empower yourself at work

Focusing on your own empowerment at work can lead to greater responsibilities and long-term success in your career. Here are several ways you can begin taking more ownership in your work:

1. Gain clarity about what is expected of you

The first step to feeling more empowered is defining your direction. Make it a point to be clear about your company’s mission, vision and annual goals.

Work with your manager to understand how your team and individual goals for the year help to accomplish the wider organizational goals. Make your individual responsibilities for your current position and any positions you are working toward readily available and review them regularly.

2. Find a mentor

Working with a mentor can help you define and achieve personal career goals, including increased empowerment at work. Ideally, you should find a mentor who is either in your industry or who has a job you hope to earn one day. Ask them for honest feedback about your strengths and areas for improvement over time.

3. Ask for consistent feedback

The best way to improve your skills and professional growth is by seeking feedback from those who know your work. Seek out feedback from both superiors and peers to get a holistic view of your performance. This can help you take control of your own personal growth at work by understanding exactly what you are good at and what you need to work on.

4. Communicate with your supervisor

Your most powerful advocate at work is likely your direct supervisor or manager. They are responsible for your performance at work and want to see you successful and satisfied in your role. Speak with them about your desire to feel more empowered at work and discuss ways you might begin working towards that as a career goal.

Once you feel empowered in the workplace, you'll be able to work more effectively toward your own professional goals and the goals of the company.

How to empower others at work

There are six ways to empower others at work: Build trust, ask for feedback, offer instructions, simplify discovery, show your appreciation and recognize limits. All methods should be applied in the appropriate scenarios for the best impact.

Let’s take a closer look at how each of these steps to empowerment can work to increase your productivity and that of others:

1. Build trust

At times, it is necessary that we trust others to complete certain tasks or own certain goals without much oversight. While it can sometimes feel uncomfortable to give others this power, especially if you are responsible for their mistakes, it is absolutely necessary to build empowerment.

Everyone makes mistakes. It is important to allow people to learn from them and move forward with no trust lost. If you are a manager, it is important to give employees the benefit of the doubt if they do make a mistake, especially in the beginning. Let your reports know that it's acceptable and expected for some mistakes to occur.

2. Ask for feedback

One of the best ways to empower others is to ask what they need—especially if you are a manager or supervisor. Whether they are not feeling empowered as a result of micromanagement or not having access to certain information, opening these lines of communication will increase empowerment for everyone.

3. Offer instructions

If one employee is in a unique position of knowing how to perform a task that no one else knows, they end up spending a considerable amount of time addressing the problems of others. In these situations, it's often better and faster for everyone involved to create instructions or conduct training sessions to get every employee on the same page.

You'll find that many people prefer to have the information they need to do the work themselves rather than having to pass it on to other people. Share knowledge among employees to create a self-sufficient environment.

4. Simplify discovery

Creating instructional materials is a huge step in empowering your employees but it only works if there's a simple way for other employees to discover and use that information. The best way to educate the team on how to complete their own work is to publish the instructions in a shared space that everyone can access.

When you take the time to give employees a simple, direct way to access the information they need and educate themselves, everyone is more productive. People who need certain information can find it, and people who have information aren't spending their time teaching others.

5. Show your appreciation

One of the most effective ways to empower others is to express appreciation for their efforts. Offering positive feedback for showing responsibility and taking ownership supports these behaviors. It also makes people feel valued and appreciated, which fosters a positive work environment.

6. Recognize limitations

While it is true that offering others more responsibility and information can make them feel empowered, it can also make them feel overwhelmed if not done properly. Part of successful empowerment is identifying the limitations of others and ensuring they do not feel burned out or responsible for tasks that do not contribute to achieving the goals for their position.

The benefits of empowering others

The goal of empowerment is to provide information and permission for employees to address problems and move forward towards achieving company goals. If people have what they need to solve their own problems, it will free up your time and allow you to challenge yourself at work.

For example, you may be overwhelmed with requests to solve computer issues from employees that could be easily solved by restarting. If your employees know they can restart their computers themselves instead of waiting on your solution, they will be more productive and you can spend more time on your own tasks.

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