When you allow your team members to make decisions and take action within your organisation, it’s known as ‘empowering employees’. It’s quite important to empower your employees if you wish to have a sustainable business. The real growth of an organisation takes place when you have multiple individuals working together instead of just relying on the hard work and dedication of a few.
Empowering employees is an organisational culture in itself. The key steps involved in empowering employees include clear communication, trust, and strategic delegation. If you wish to empower your employees in your organisation, here are a couple of tips for you:
Delegate work with the right intent: Delegating work for the sake of taking work off your plate is not the right approach. You must delegate work to your team members with the intention to grow and develop the capabilities of your team members.
Always set clear expectations: Before empowering your employees, you must define the boundaries where your team member is free to act. When you set clear expectations with your team, you are allowing them to make informed decisions aligned with organisational goals.
Give your employees the freedom to work on their assignments: Whenever you delegate work, you must be mentally open to accepting their way of accomplishing the task. It may be different from the way in which you would probably do the same assignment. Refrain from micromanaging your employees. Be accepting of the fact that your way may not be the best or the only way to complete a task.
Provide your employees with the required resources: A common complaint amongst organisations first implementing employee empowerment practices is that they still have employees who walk into the office expecting their issues to be solved magically for them. You need to understand that you have to provide the required tools and resources to them.
Always offer constructive feedback: You should always be specific and thoughtful about the input that you provide while debriefing on a project. Instead of merely telling someone that they did a good job, you must be specific about the attitude or actions that you would love repeated from their end.
Include your employees in goal setting and decision making: Always involve your employees at the time of decision making or goal setting. If you feel you can’t involve them during these preliminary processes, at least stay open to their input or ideas.
Clearly, communicate the vision of the organisation: It is becoming increasingly important for employees to feel that their efforts are contributing towards building something which holds significance from an organisational perspective. Hence you must clearly communicate the vision of the organisation to your employees. By doing so, you empower them with the knowledge that they are making a difference to the organisation with their contribution.
Appreciate your employees for their hard work: If you appreciate your employees for a job that’s done well, you increase the chances of them performing well again in future. Your appreciation will encourage them to take action, to be innovative, and to be proactive while solving issues.
Your organisation will no doubt be able to attain a certain level of growth under your direct management. But for the sustainable growth of an organisation, it definitely needs a team of empowered employees.
It is a common knowledge that individuals with high emotional intelligence have a greater chance of getting hired, promoted, and earning a better salary.
An individual’s ability to identify and control his or her emotions and to be able to understand the emotions of others is termed as emotional intelligence. When an individual has high emotional intelligence, they can build better relationships, defuse conflict in teams, reduce team stress, and also improve job satisfaction. A high emotional intelligence paves the way for increased team productivity and retention of employees as well. That’s the reason employers are keener towards hiring and promoting candidates who have a high emotional quotient (EQ).
According to Daniel Goleman, there are five pillars of emotional intelligence. Let’s take a look at them to figure out how these pillars can give you an edge.
An individual’s ability to identify one’s own emotions, strengths, weaknesses, emotional triggers, values, motivations, goals, and the ability to understand how these factors can affect his or her thoughts and behaviour is termed as self-awareness.
For instance, if you are suddenly feeling annoyed, stressed, or uninspired, probably it is a good time to check with yourself what it is that is making you feel these emotions. When you are able to identify the emotion and its cause, you find yourself in a much better space to address the same by taking the right action.
The ability to regulate your emotions and to be able to control them instead of them controlling you is termed as self-management. It is a fact that even individuals with a high EQ may be subject to impulses, negative emotions such as stress and anger, bad moods etc. However, when you have better self-management, you can delay your response to certain aggressive or stressful situations. When you are able to delay your response, it gives you time to react thoughtfully in a much more clear-headed manner instead of reacting impulsively. Negative emotions not only impact the people in and around you, but it has a negative bearing on your well being as well.
The key factor which prompts you to take action whenever you face a certain setback or an obstacle is termed as motivation. Individuals with a low motivation level are more likely to be averse towards taking risks and they quickly become anxious and give up. Owing to their lack of motivation, it may prompt them to express negatively pertaining to their responsibilities at work or project goals. This can highly impact the overall morale of the team.
Individuals who are highly motivated are more likely to seek feedback, push themselves, strive towards improving their knowledge and skills and monitor their own progress as well. That is why such individuals are always considered to be an asset to the team.
When you have the ability to emotionally connect with others and understand their concerns, feelings, and points of view it is termed as empathy. This is a key skill to possess especially when it comes to negotiating with both internal and external customers and stakeholders. Empathy helps you to anticipate the needs or reaction of others. Empathy is an important quality to possess especially when you work in a team. It helps in generating harmony within the team. When you are able to identify and respond to the emotional needs of your team members, it automatically paves the way for a happy work culture.
An individual’s ability to strike a rapport with colleagues, build trust and garner respect from colleagues is termed as relationship management. It is as simple as trusting and to be trusted in return in the team. A manager who has great relationship management skills is able to successfully guide, inspire, as well as develop their team members thereby impacting the overall productivity and performance of his or her team.
While it may seem that emotional intelligence comes naturally to some, it is possible to increase one’s emotional intelligence if you are willing to genuinely work towards it!
Diversity & Inclusion has been on the priority list of smart organizations for quite some time. However, recently the need for its genuine inclusion has risen significantly owing to some very high profile incidents. For instance, the film industry has been reporting incidents of sexual harassment for quite some time. Also, there have been initiatives like the gender pay gap reporting. The rise of such instances has been responsible for making diversity & inclusion a priority.
Let’s take a look at some of the reasons as to why diversity & inclusion is significant and why it should be on the top of your priority list regarding your organisation’s people agenda.
You will understand your customers better
One of the most obvious reasons for adopting better diversity & inclusion is that it will help your organisation to understand its customers in a much better way. According to reports, in 2014 the combined disposable income of around 12 million disabled people in the UK was estimated to be roughly around £80 billion. However, the 2017 report indicated that out of the 12 million disabled people, only around 3.4 million disabled people are employed. It is obvious that those organisations that employed disabled people will certainly be able to design products and services which are best suited for their needs. This automatically gives them a competitive edge. Likewise, the same will apply to customers belonging to other demographic groups as well. With this growing awareness, organisations now realise the significance and benefits of diversity. Around 49% of employers who were surveyed for LinkedIn’s Global Recruiting Trends in 2018 have stated that they are focussing on diversity so that they can represent their customers better. Some of the other reasons stated by the respondents of this survey included improving the organisational performance (62%) and improved organisational culture (78%).
Diverse teams lead to better performance
When you have cognitively diverse teams, they can solve problems faster compared to teams of cognitively similar individuals. Apart from this, according to a report published by Deloitte in 2013, when employees notice their organisation’s commitment and support towards diversity, they tend to feel included and thereby their ability to innovate seems to increase by around 83%. Also, when you have diverse teams, they are reportedly found to be 60% faster regarding decision making compared to non-diverse teams. Reports have further corroborated the fact that an all-male member team seems to make around 38% of decisions in a large organisation. This gap worsens in organisations which are less diverse such as the firms in Silicon Valley.
Diverse teams promote greater creativity and innovation
When you have a workforce that comprises of people from diverse backgrounds, skills, and experiences, the ideas that emerge out of such teams are indeed more creative as well as innovative. According to statistics generated out of a McKinsey study, US public companies with a diverse executive board seem to have around 95% higher return on equity as compared to non-diverse boards.
It becomes easier to hire and retain talent
When an organisation supports a diverse demographic group, it has a direct impact on the retention and engagement of employees as per a study conducted by Women Ahead in 2017. Some organisations have shifted their focus from diversity & inclusion towards the concept of ‘belonging’. The feeling of belonging offers employees psychological security which thereby prompts them to give their best at work. It is a fact that the most diverse of organisations cannot retain and engage their employees if the employees don’t feel accepted and included.
It will enhance your organisation’s brand
Most large organisations in the UK needed to publicly disclose their gender pay gaps for the first time in April 2018, it has created a more significant level of public awareness. According to a PWC survey conducted in 2017, around 54% of women and 45% of men seemed to have researched if an organisation had diversity & inclusion policies in place before deciding to join the organisation. Another 61% of women and 48% of men opined that they assessed the diversity of an organisation’s leadership team before deciding to take up an offer.
As a result of such transformation, a recent Glassdoor study revealed that a lot of organisations are expected to increase their investment in diversity & inclusion. Around 59% of organisations were of the opinion that since they lacked to invest in D&I, they are facing a crunch in attracting high-quality talent. On the other hand around 20% of organisations said that owing to their organisation’s diversity & inclusion initiatives, they have been able to influence a candidate’s decision of joining their organisation.
The culture of an organisation depicts its basic personality with how its people work and interact. However, organisational culture is a complex and elusive entity which evolves in the midst of leadership, strategy and other circumstances. In other words, culture may be defined as a self-sustaining behavioural pattern that decides how things are done. Culture is not something that can be easily copied. It comprises repetitive habits, emotional responses, and instinctive habits. Organisational cultures have a trait of slowly evolving and continuously recalibrating. The way in which the people of an organisation go about their business is shaped and reflected by what its people think, feel, and believe. The formal efforts towards changing an organisation’s culture have seldom managed to figure out what motivates the people of an organisation. When strongly worded memos are communicated, people continue to go about their ways and function according to the habits which they are comfortable and familiar with.
However, this should not deter leaders from trying to improve and work on building a robust organisational culture. They need to change their perspective. When an entire machine cannot be replaced, they need to work towards realigning some of the more useful parts. Similarly, when changing behaviour and culture, leaders need to organisations some of the emotional forces within the present culture differently.
The alignment of corporate culture is impacted by the following three dimensions:
Symbolic reminders comprising of artefacts which are completely visible
Keystone behaviours of recurring acts which tend to trigger other behaviours of both visible and invisible kinds
Mindset, comprising of beliefs and attitudes which are widely shared but for the most part invisible
Out of these three dimensions, behaviours are the most significant and powerful factors which drive real change. Hence if an organisation works towards changing some of the most critical behaviours, mindsets will automatically follow. With time, altered habits and behavioural patterns are successful in producing better results. An organisation’s culture is made up of several reservoirs of emotional influence and energy. When strategic priorities and cultural forces are in sync with one another, organisations can draw energy from the way its people feel. This also helps in accelerating an organisation’s movement to gain a competitive edge or to even regain certain advantages once lost.
Research suggests organisations which use informal emotional approaches to influence the behaviour of its people are more likely to experience a change that lasts. Companies which used a few of these specific cultural catalysts reported achieving a marked improvement in the emotional commitment of its people and in organisational pride.
While there is no set formula, equation, or algorithm that will guarantee results if an organisation adopts the following principles it will be able to deploy and improve its culture and increase the odds of operational and financial success.
Guiding Principles of Organisational Culture Development
Align with your organisation’s present cultural situations. Certain cultures which are deeply embedded cannot be replaced or uprooted with simple upgrades or by carrying out major overhaul efforts. The existing culture of your organisation cannot be instantly swapped for a new one. No culture is entirely all good or all bad. To work with an organisation’s culture in an effective manner, you need to understand it, figure out which are the dominant and consistent traits. You should also determine under what type of conditions are these traits like to prove to be of help or may act as a hindrance. In other words, even cultural traits have a yin and a yang side to it.
Link behaviours to business objectives. When people discuss motivations, values, and feelings, the conversation may often lead to distractions. People tend to walk away from a culture when the message is unrelated to day to day work. To avoid this kind of disconnect, you need to offer well defined and tangible examples of how interventions in the culture zone can lead to an improved financial outcome and enhanced performance. Select behaviours which specifically target measurable business improvement performance.
Change behaviour and mindsets will follow. Just as night follows day, it’s a common opinion that behavioural change is followed by mental shifts amongst people. That is the reason why organisations are often seen to try and change the mindsets of its employees by communicating the values and presenting them in glossy brochures. It helps, but moulding an organisational culture requires much more than merely saying it. If you try to change an organisation’s culture just via training, top-down messaging, and development programs, it seldom helps in changing the behaviour or beliefs of its people. Research suggests that people are more inclined towards acting their way into believing instead of merely thinking their way into acting. An excellent place to start is to bring about changes in the behaviours of people. These changes in the key behaviours are actionable, tangible, observable, repeatable, and measurable. Good examples of behaviour changes include empowerment, interpersonal relations, and collaboration. Empowerment changes entail reducing the number of approvals that are required to make decisions. Interpersonal changes entail mutually devising practices which help in raising contentious grievances or issues. Collaboration changes entail setting up simpler ways to convene joint projects.
Focus on critical behaviours. As an organisation, you need to be quite selective regarding selecting behaviours. Select a small number of critical behaviours that are likely to have a maximum impact once put into practice. Identify a few things which people do across the organisation which positively impact the business performance. Ensure that these set of behaviours are aligned with the organisation’s overall strategy. The organisation also needs to check how its people feel about doing these things so that it can tap into the employee’s emotional commitment. The next stage should be to translate these critical behaviours into simple and practical steps which can be adopted on a day to day basis. Lastly, you need to be smart in selecting your beachhead groups of employees who will project these behaviours. Some of the employees may respond strongly towards these new set of behaviours while there may be others who are likely to implement and spread them.
Deploy genuine but informal leaders. People should not get confused with authority and leadership. Leadership is considered to be a natural attribute, which is exercised and displayed in an informal manner and it is independent of any kind of title or position in the organizational chart. Authentic informal leaders are found in every organisation, but they are not recognised and are often underused and overlooked when it comes to driving an organisation’s culture. Such leaders can be identified through surveys, interviews and utilising tools such as organisational network analysis. Once these leaders are identified, they can become powerful allies who can influence the behaviour of other employees by setting examples. When companies map out their organisations, they are able to identify leaders who project core leadership strengths. Organisations tend to push the organisational culture into silos of human resource professionals. Keep in mind that formal leaders are equally critical towards championing and safeguarding desired behaviours, reinforcing cultural alignment, and energising the personal feelings of employees. If employees detect a disconnect between the projected culture and the one that leaders follow, they are likely to disengage quickly from the propagated culture and simply mimic the behaviour that their senior leaders are projecting. The formal leaders need to demonstrate the change that they wish to see. Here as well, select only a handful of the right kind of leaders to be on board in order to kick-start the process of demonstrating the change.
Demonstrate the impact of culture change quickly. When you fail to share the result of efforts and initiatives for several months, people are likely to disengage and become cynical. That’s why it’s important to display the impact of efforts on the business as quickly as possible. One of the most effective ways of doing it is to have performance pilots in place for high profile demonstration projects. Pilot projects involve low-risk efforts which introduce certain behaviours which can be evaluated and assessed.
Employ cross organisational communication methods. This is to ensure your message spreads across various departments and functions virally, top down and bottom up. One such powerful method to spread ideas is via social media either through LinkedIn posts, Facebook, and Tweets from genuine informal leaders. Social media is one of the most effective media these days to share news and information, as well as critical behaviours. It is a general trend that people are usually more receptive to changes when such changes are recommended by colleagues, friends, and other associates. Just as it is an art to make content go viral, it is an art to make behaviours go viral as well. When behaviours go viral, the leaders of the organisation see an increased performance as well as recognition of peers and leadership.
Align the new cultural direction with the existing way of doing business. In other words, you need to align behaviours with programmatic efforts. The cultural interventions and informal mechanisms must integrate and complement with the other common formal components of the organisation. When an organisation provides a structure in which people work through analytics, organisation design, lean process improvement, and human resources, it promotes a logical level of motivation for the employees. Similarly, informal organisations encourage the emotional commitment of employees which characterises outstanding performance.
Actively manage the cultural situation over time. Organisations which have been highly successful in working with culture are known as culture rockstars. They are seen to proactively monitor, manage, care for, and update the cultural forces of their respective organisations. When the strategic and operating priorities of an organisation are aligned, the culture of an organisation can provide hidden sources of motivation and energy which can accelerate changes much faster than formal programs and processes. While your organisation may have a highly effective culture today, it may not be relevant or good enough tomorrow. While an organisation’s cultural situation may be multi-dimensional, challenging, or often even difficult to deal with, it still requires a robust set of emotional resources.
The culture of an organisation can be compared to natural forces such as tides and wind. These elements of nature are always there in the background, but they are sometimes obvious, and sometimes unnoticed. These forces of nature cannot be fundamentally altered or tamed. However, if you respect them and understand how to make the most of them, they can be an excellent source of energy and assist in a compelling manner.
Do not plan for overnight results. Expect an evolution rather than revolution. One of the challenges of changing the culture of an organisation is that the change is gradual, rather sometimes too slow for leaders who face fast-paced, disruptive competitors. The good news, on the other hand, is that if you approach culture intelligently and with respect, you can utilise it to accelerate your competitive advantage.