Culture. Stakeholder capitalism. Employee engagement. These are all buzzwords that – in part or in whole – describe the environment that you build around your workforce in order to create alignment, maximize productivity, and create a high retention rate of talented employees. But according to Metal Mafia owner, and Birthing of Giants Board of Experts member, Vanessa Nornberg, employee empowerment (another one for you) is a key strategy for achieving an ideal workforce.
“As a business owner, I have learned that the most meaningful action I can take to grow my business is to empower my employees.”
Vanessa has spent years observing the primary emotions that get in the way of employees feeling truly empowered. She points to three core values that you as the leader can hold yourself to in order to unlock insecure employees, and maintain high productivity.
1 – Address Lack of Knowledge With Training, Not Anger – No one likes feeling incompetent, but admitting when we don’t know how to perform a task at work is harder for some than others. This is especially true if past employers have reacted with anger when employees understandably don’t know every aspect of their job right out of the gate. This is where thorough training and a reinforced value in the discovery process comes in. As Vanessa describes for her own company, “We take the time to teach every aspect of the employee’s job from organizational tricks like the order in which tasks should be performed to optimize time, to the ins and outs of our CRM system.”
2 – It’s Okay To Ask For Help – As entrepreneurs, many of us are hard wired to bring people in to fill knowledge gaps and extend our reach. Not so for those who are super hard working but less entrepreneurial minded. Foster an environment where it’s okay to ask for help from entry level workers on up to your inner circle. In fast growth companies roles can evolve quite a lot. People sometimes get overwhelmed. As Vanessa says, “We want [each employee] to know that there is no shame in soliciting the aid of any other person on the team, and that doing so does not all diminish the trust we have in her as an employee.”
3 – Mistakes Are Learning Opportunities – Here’s another concept that entrepreneurs not only tend to intrinsically know, but pretty much live by. Mistakes, even colossal ones, are instructional. Employees on the other hand often feel pressure to get it right every time, and it can lock them up from making key decisions and develop their talents. We can help with that by treating mistakes as learning opportunities. As Vanessa says, “An employee who is afraid to fail never does anything great. I want each employee I hire to be great, and the only thing within my control that can make that happen is to give her permission to be wrong.”
Alleviate Fears For Employee Empowerment
Fear is the greatest impediment to success. As entrepreneurs, we know that better than anyone. And that knowledge puts us, as leaders, in the perfect position to alleviate fears, encourage discovery, and create an empowered workforce.
“Fear is the great equalizer and the great paralyzer. It stops even the best and brightest from reaching their potential. By freeing an employee from her fear of failure, I set her free to succeed.”
You can read Vanessa’s article in its original form at her Inc magazine column.