You built your business from the ground up and deeply care about every detail, from running the day-to-day to planning your long-term goals and vision. Having a dependable and capable team is critical to running efficiently while not suffering burnout. But, it can be difficult to release some responsibilities to workers.
Empowering employees is critical for any business to grow, as the Harvard Business Review found in a recent study: “When employees feel empowered at work, it’s associated with stronger job performance, job satisfaction and commitment to the organization.”
Entrepreneurs – especially those in small business – face a unique challenge when it comes to setting operational goals. On one hand, you can offer employees a unique working environment where they can learn and grow with a more relaxed culture. On the other hand, employees may become frustrated without enough workplace structure in place or lack of autonomy.
For your business to succeed, you must strike a balance between inspiring employees and offering structure. Let’s roll up our sleeves and look at eight ways to instill employee confidence as they become as invested in the company’s success as you are.
1. Give Them Time
Small businesses may not be able to match larger firms when it comes to salary, but you can offer something with long-term value: time. Provide employees with a place to learn, experiment and grow. The flexibility to try new things and blossom into more important roles will help employees feel valued.
2. Take Time to Listen
The daily demands of the company frequently take precedent, and it can be difficult to step away and think about the bigger picture. Taking a break to talk openly with employees and listen to their ideas makes for happier employees. If an employee has a problem, genuinely think about what they are saying and either accept the idea or talk through why you believe an alternative solution is best.
3. Praise Effort
This is important. Not all employees will immediately be superstars at their jobs. Take time to highlight employees that put their best foot forward. That acknowledgement may translate into better performance down the road. Employees who receive praise are encouraged to maintain that level of output as they learn and grow.
4. Provide Growth Paths
Employees like to understand how they can climb the company ladder, so laying out clear growth paths for employees is important. Let them know what they need to accomplish in their current role in order to gain a higher position, more responsibility or even more pay. Make a point to check in with employees on their progress, providing them feedback on expectations, along with timelines for advancement. Doing so will motivate employees and give them a solid road to follow as they progress in their career.
5. Give Employees Autonomy Over Tasks
There are many ways to complete a task, and as a boss you should allow employees to handle it the best way they see fit. Micromanaging employees will only lead to frustration for both you and them. Tell them what you expect to have done and then allow them to figure out their own path. Offer help if needed but have faith in the people that you hired.
6. Over-communicate the Vision of the Company
Make sure employees know where the company stands. This does not mean daily, or even weekly updates, but make a point to let employees know what’s going well and what needs improvement. Some Silicon Valley companies have even started sharing financial information with employees, letting them know revenue goals and status, and any upcoming plans or improvements.
7. Respect Boundaries
You love your business, but your employees may not share that same level of passion. That’s OK. The key for you is to understand and respect that line, as long as your employees work hard and smart while on the job.
8. Offer Opportunities to Learn
Employees likely have work-related interests outside of their job. Learn what these are and see how they could benefit your organization, then provide training and educational opportunities to support those employees. Not only will the employee gain a new skill, but they’ll learn something that can directly impact your business.
You work incredibly hard to grow your company, and as the business expands you’ll continue to learn that you need help. Inspiring employee confidence will not only make them feel like valued members of the company, it will also help you achieve your larger goals for the business.