At some point during your career as an entrepreneur, you’re going to meet an employee with a lot of potentials who never steps up when it counts, or one that seems afraid to make a contribution. These are people who don’t feel they can do things well, even if they have the skillset. These people are not empowered and it’s likely your fault.
Employees can only feel as empowered as you make them feel. If you don’t help them, they’ll rarely take initiative and perform at a lower level, and that can keep your start-up from reaching its full potential. Victor Mitchell, a serial entrepreneur, shares a couple of ways you can make sure your employees feel like they can take on the world.
Being empowered isn’t just about believing you can do it; it’s also about knowing what you need to do. It’s hard to feel capable of success if you don’t know what counts as a success or what you’re supposed to work toward. This means every employee you hire must be aligned with the start-up’s overall goals.
Employees who know how they fit into the big picture are far more motivated than those working in the dark. This knowledge also allows them to take initiative if they’re so inclined. Don’t let them figure it out alone. Hold regular meetings with your employees to discuss personal goals and tasks that will help the company succeed.
If there’s anything you shouldn’t do as an entrepreneur, it is micromanaged your employees. Nothing gets a person’s morale down quite like being constantly second-guessed or ordered around by their boss. It makes them feel incompetent and unable to do the simplest tasks without supervision.
You can’t empower your employees if you’re constantly hovering. You must be willing to take a step back and let them do the jobs you hired them for. Letting them work on their own can inspire them to take risks they would avoid if they knew the boss was closely monitoring them. Micromanagement can impede their growth, which hampers your start-up in the long run. You’re running a start-up, not a daycare, so act like it; let your employees do their jobs so you can focus on the big picture.
An employee’s potential is just that: untapped ability. Don’t hire people who have the potential to be great and expect them to perform at their fullest on their first day. How you treat them will play a big part in their development, and they’ll almost certainly need your help to become all they can be. That means making sure they have the training needed to work within your system and removing all barriers to their personal development.
For example, you can eschew traditional top-down communication lines and go for a flatter structure. Don’t just give them an avenue for feedback, encourage it. When you make it possible for them to express their thoughts and ideas, they’ll never stop trying.
You could also help them in a more direct fashion by creating a mentorship program. Put partners on high-potential employees to make sure nothing gets in the way of their development. You could even throw your hat into the ring as a mentor and personally make sure your employees feel empowered.
A big part of leadership is understanding what people want, and what most people want is to feel they’re important. As an entrepreneur, you know your employees are essential — without them, you could not succeed — and you must show that you appreciate their efforts. Recognizing and rewarding employee achievements is a powerful way to motivate your hires. It assures them that their actions and opinions are not just valued but appreciated, and it empowers the rest of your staff by making them want the same recognition.
You can’t do everything alone as an entrepreneur, and your start-up will have trouble surviving if you’re the only one taking initiative. An empowered employee can make sure you’re not the only one pushing the start-up to greater heights. When you treat them well, recognize their achievements, and make sure they get enough training, they’ll help you become successful.
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