Feeling Smarter, Faster, Stronger, Better: Empowering Your Work Environment
Everyone wants to be better, but not everyone lives and works in an environment that facilitates self-improvement. Unfortunately, plenty of bosses (not to mention spouses and friends) stifle development with unconscious ― though no less incorrect ― behaviors. Despite good intentions, even you may be unknowingly impeding the progress of your co-workers and employees with the way you speak and act.
However, an empowering work environment is difficult to construct; the line between encouraging and over-lenient is thin and delicate. Thus, what follows is a handy guide to help you learn to empower those around you ― without letting them take advantage.
Let Information Run Free
A study found that most employees desperately want to feel “in” on information ― which is likely why gossip spreads around offices like wildfire. By avoiding secrets and freely sharing information, not only do you show your co-workers trust and respect; you also give them the power to perform better in their roles. When your co-workers fully understand how the company functions, they will appreciate how their roles affect those around them. Thus, you should never hesitate to share information about your job with those around you.
Many businesses attempt to shield workers from certain information that could seem unfavorable, but by being honest and open, employees are able to work together to solve problems. Every employee should be able to state:
- How the company makes money
- The company’s five-year history of profits
- Any new products or services are expected this year
- The company’s biggest advantages to customers
- The company’s biggest competitors
Let Others Make Decisions
When you micromanage ― when you hover over your co-workers and attempt to control their every decision ― you steal nearly all of their power and discourage them from trying their best. Perhaps surprisingly, the most empowering act is to step away from those around you, allowing them to complete their work without your interference.
Several studies have shown that above all else, employees crave autonomy. Though plenty of employers believe that companies can only succeed when workers are strictly controlled, research shows the opposite to be true. In fact, eliminating bureaucracy and assigning more responsibilities to workers forces them to plug into their jobs, usually increasing productivity and creativity. Additionally, establishing a workplace culture of experimentation is beneficial, as fear of mistakes tends to stifle inspiration and quell efficiency. You and your co-workers can start building this office space together.
Let Good People Work Together
The Industrial Revolution taught us the power of the supply line, and many companies continue to suffer from rigid roles of compartmentalized employees. Today, most workers excel at more than their assigned tasks, and forcing them to stay in their small boxes is disheartening and wasteful.
Instead, you should recognize all of your co-workers’ skills, even if they are not being put to use in their current positions. those workers who demonstrate an aptitude for certain useful skills should join together for the benefit of the company, perhaps working on special projects or solving tough challenges. Then, most important of all, these workers should be praised for their efforts. As the best managers know, a few positive words can go a long way in building long-term loyalty and productivity.
Let Stress Levels Fall
Yet, no matter how hard you work to build up your co-workers’ self-confidence, your workplace will never become an empowering space if it is suffused with stress. When people are hassled and tense, they focus on minimizing the sources of their stress as quickly as possible, which often means slapdash projects and underwhelming ideas that don’t elevate the company or anyone working there.
The acronym SCARF might help remind you of the five most powerful subconscious influencers: status, certainty, autonomy, relatedness, and fairness. As a worker, you can reduce the stress of those around you by avoiding certain behaviors that increase the stress of those around you. For example, never flaunt your standing in the company, never strive for unequal treatment, and avoid controversial conversation topics like politics or religion. As the SCARF model indicates, many of the actions explained above, like providing certainty with information and more autonomy with additional responsibility, lowers stress and increases empowerment in one move.