Employee empowerment is crucial. Not only does it help with recruiting and retaining employees, it also builds a team of better, more productive workers.
A 2016 survey done by my organization, HonorSociety.org, found that 44 percent of professionals want a manager who empowers them to be independent. Fortunately, employers have more tools than ever before to empower their staff, thanks to the rapid advancements in technology.
This is how you can leverage new technology to better manage employees and guide them to being more independent:
Provide educational materials
The Internet is changing the way we educate our employees and how we learn new skills and competencies. Give employees access to online tools to empower them to learn and continue their professional development by building both soft and hard skills.
Sites like Coursera, Udemy, and Khan Academy offer various courses on several subjects. Create an action plan that defines goals for each employee so they have a voice in their learning and are kept on track. Ask them about their passions, where they see themselves in the next year or five years, and how they want to succeed in their role. Guide your employees with career planning and empower them to take action towards those goals.
Additionally, check in during their coursework to gauge how effective your professional development program is. Ask for their feedback and make adjustments if you think they may be better suited pursuing another method of education.
Bottom line: With so many online resources and educational tools, you have what you need to empower each employee in a meaningful way. Give each team member one-on-one meetings to find the strategy that best fits their career goals and aligns with your company’s mission.
Guide them on social networks
Social media is a great resource for employees to learn more about their industry and expand their professional network. Encourage them to join outlets like LinkedIn and start to follow industry thought leaders and similar companies.
When employees are in tune with their field of work, they are hungry for more knowledge. Feed their appetite by referring them to relevant prestigious professional organizations, and pay for their memberships and fees.
Professional organizations are great for employees who want to expand their industry knowledge and professional network, share ideas and learn from colleagues at events, develop a sense of authority over their career, and seek out meaningful experiences to help better their communities. Both in person and online, networking is vital to sustained career growth.
Teach basic networking skills, and show them how to follow up and build a meaningful long-term relationship with their colleagues and potential mentors. Networking is more than just shaking hands, taking business cards, and clicking the “connect” button on LinkedIn. It requires engagement and follow-through, which many professionals fail to do.
An OfficeTeam survey from July 2014 found that 28 percent of senior managers surveyed say that failing to keep in touch is a major networking mistake. Fortunately, technology makes networking and following up easier than ever before.
For example, follow or connect with contacts on social media, and share interesting articles or studies they would find useful. Comment on their posts, share content they produce, or let them in on emerging industry trends. Encourage them to reach out for a coffee or lunch meeting with their contacts.
You want employees to become the expert, and social media is an excellent tool for them to establish their credibility. Make the most of it. When employees expand their network, they build their confidence and take authority over their career, which helps them feel empowered.
Offer insightful feedback
Feedback is crucial for employees to become better workers and develop more skills, and most of them know this as fact — 72 percent of employees think their performance would improve with more feedback, according to a 2014 study from Workboard.
Fortunately, advances in technology enable companies to track performance. Talent management platforms are the perfect solution for companies that want to provide accurate, impactful direction for each staff member.
These programs measure how each person is performing their duties. Once performance data is collected, processed, and analyzed, employers and managers can see where employees are succeeding and what they are struggling with.
Feedback should be constructive and specific to situations, not the person. For example, if a sales rep is struggling to convert leads at a certain stage of the purchase funnel, you wouldn’t call them a bad salesperson. You would hone in on something specific. Perhaps their presentations are resulting in lead drop off. This means they should work on their presentation process and refine their call-to-action.
When feedback is constructive and actionable, employers empower their staff to build their strengths and expand their knowledge and business acumen.
The end result of empowering workers with technology is a happier, more engaged, and better-performing team.
How are you using technology to empower your staff?
For more insight on how technology can boost employee engagement, see 9 Ways Technology Can Increase Workplace Health And Wellness.