Good business leaders and managers are always looking for ways to keep their employees engaged in order to keep performance and productivity high. One of the best ways to motivate employees is to let them take ownership of their goals, projects, and workflow. Empowering your employees to take ownership of their goals isn’t just good for the employees; it can also lead to strong business outcomes and a strong bottom line, as Palo Alto-based HP Enterprise reports. As a leader in your company, here are some ways to help your employees to take ownership of their goals.
Setting your Employees up for Success through Goal Setting
Whether you manage employees at a tech start-up in Silicon Valley, a large multi-national corporation like Adobe Systems in San Jose, or a small family business in your hometown, you can empower your employees and set them up for success by helping them to set goals, and then let them take the reigns to get the work done. Of course, there may be some rules, regulations, or parameters to which employees must adhere to do the work, but beyond those, working with your employees to set goals and allowing them to determine how to fulfill them lets them take ownership of their work. CEO Richard Jalichandra says, “My philosophy is to help people set goals, then get out of the way and allow them to be entrepreneurial in how they reach those goals.” Giving employees a project to oversee or a new area to manage gives them a specific area in which they can proudly take ownership and deliver results, their way.
Creating an Environment that Encourages Autonomy
If you want employees who work proactively and exhibit a sense of ownership in their work, it’s important to create an environment that encourages autonomy. Executive Coach Marshall Goldsmith explains in the Harvard Business Review that as employees understand their roles and tasks within the company, managers can step back and enable employees to make decisions about how they accomplish their goals. He writes, “Your role is to encourage and support the decision-making environment, and to give employees the tools and knowledge they need to make and act upon their own decisions. By doing this, you help your employees reach an empowered state.” This creates an environment in which employees value their work more as they have more say in how they get it done, and as an added benefit, employees who do exceptionally well demonstrating their ability to manage and complete goals stand out as potential future leaders and managers for your company.
Keep the Conversation Going
Leadership guru John C. Maxwell describes that in empowering employees to take ownership at work, it is important for leaders to maintain an on-going dialogue with their team members. Leaders should both ask questions, including challenging ones, and take time to listen to their employees. Maxwell further encourages leaders to model taking time to think and reflect, but also to maintain a focus on solutions. The feedback loop that these actions create facilitates the dialogue between leaders and employees that empowers employees to have the autonomy to get the job done the way they see fit while still being able to seek guidance as needed. Practically speaking, you as manager can keep an open door policy–literally–which communicates to your team that you are available to talk as they need while they are accomplishing their tasks and goals. Encouraging open communication while also remaining hands-off is a delicate balance, but an important one for employee empowerment.
Years ago, Bill Gates said, “As we look ahead into the next century, leaders will be those who empower others.” Employees who are empowered to take ownership at work tend to value their work highly, and their performance tends to be strong. Leaders can facilitate this type of company culture by working with team members to set goals, developing an environment that encourages autonomy, and maintaining an on-going, open dialogue with their employees. That type of leadership is good for employees, good for managers, and good for the business.
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