Ever since I sold my first company, I’ve been thinking a lot about what I could have done to make it more successful. Some people might think that selling a company for a decent check is a good thing –and I would totally agree. But that doesn’t change the fact that I could have done better, and I am always trying to achieve more.
I have realized since founding my last successful company that it takes a different kind of leader to build a billion-dollar company: It takes a leader that is surrounded by an empowered staff.
I didn’t create an empowered staff at my last company, and I feel that because I didn’t put in the effort grow other leaders, I didn’t get as much value as I could have.
Now that I have seen this fact, I have started to grow the type of company that I feel will get me to be much more successful in business and in life. Here are 10 empowerment tips I’ve learned along the way:
1. Demonstrate Your Trust
The best way to gain employee loyalty is by showing your staff members that they have your trust. Clarify the ends instead of the means and let your staff go about projects in their own ways. They might not accomplish everything exactly as you would have, but they will get the job done with their own flair.
2. Communicate a Clear Vision
As a boss and a leader, it’s your job to get everyone on the same page. People that do not know what they are supposed to be doing won’t be able to do their jobs very well at all. Clearly define the roles of your employees so they know their duties — and so that they don’t step on each other’s toes.
3. Don’t Avoid Small Talk
Make a habit of sitting down with your employees and engaging in one-on-one conversations. You can have these talks in your office, in the break room, or at a coffee shop down the street. Ask employees about their work progress, their accomplishments, and even their complaint. Also make an effort to get to know your employees on a personal level. Ask about what’s going on with their families or lives in general to show that you care about them as human beings. When I do this, I find that it leads to a friendlier and more productive office environment.
4. Encourage Self-Improvement
When your employees learn new skills, it’s good for the company as a whole. Some companies will even support continued education or classes outside of the workplace that enhance personal growth. If you can’t support your employees through financial means, at least be flexible with their schedules to a certain degree. Allowing a salesperson to leave half an hour early every Thursday for community orchestra practice can do wonders for their well-being and work ethic.
5. Leave Your Office Door Open
You want your employees to know that their opinions are valued in order to truly empower them. A simple gesture, such as leaving your office door open, can do wonders to communicate this. Adopting an open-door policy shows employees that you care about what they think and enables them to play an active role in the success of your company.
6. Support Vacation Time
This might seem counter-intuitive, but you are going to get a lot more out of your employees if you work to keep them from burning out. Learn to spot the symptoms of burnout and avoid getting anywhere close by actively supporting vacation time. Your employees will actually be more productive and better at their jobs if they are well-rested and rejuvenated. You don’t have to mandate full weeks off at a time, but you should foster an environment where a long weekend here and there is not only tolerated, but actively supported.
7. Delegate More Than Just Work
As a boss or manager, it’s inevitable that you’ll have to delegate work, but you need to make sure that’s not the only thing you’re passing down. Ask a staff member to lead an important meeting, even if it’s just while you step out to take a phone call. Share the projects that people and customers notice. This will show employees that they have a real effect on the business.
8. Learn Flexibility
Life happens. Be flexible with your employees as things come up. Perhaps try a different schedule that allows a parent to drop their kids off at school in the morning. As an added bonus, they’ll be able to avoid rush-hour traffic and put in even more work. Or allow an employee to work from home in order to take care of a sick parent if the job allows. If long telecommuting periods don’t work for your company, experiment with one work-from-home day a week or a couple each month. You might even find that your employees are more productive when working from an environment they choose.
9. Inspire Creative Thinking
Just because you have been doing a task one way for your entire career does not mean that’s the best way to accomplish it. There are always problems to be solved and better ways to do things, so use the minds around you and encourage your employees to share creative business solutions. Putting the challenge in the hands of your employees will not only save you some headaches, but it will also lead to better results in the end. They do say that two heads are better than one, after all.
10. Show You Appreciate Their Efforts
Sure, your employees are paid to show up every day, but it’s always helpful to receive some encouragement. It’s important to let your employees know when they are doing a good job, whether that means handling a sales call exceptionally well or putting together a flawless report. This will ensure continued high-quality work in the future, and your employees will feel more job satisfaction.
Here’s to empowering your new leaders!
Peter Daisyme is the cofounder of Palo Alto, California-based Hosting Inc, a hosting company that specializes in helping businesses with hosting their websites for free, for life.