Tag: leadership

Better Leadership Through Employee Empowerment

As we start the New Year, have you considered how you’ll become a better leader for your business?  The answer to this question may depend upon what you believe the definition of leadership to be.  Lao Tsu defined leadership as:

“To lead people, walk beside them … As for the best leaders, the people do not notice their existence.  The next best, the people honor and praise.  The next, the people fear; and the next, the people hate … When the best leader’s work is done the people say, ‘We did it ourselves!”

With these words in mind, if you’ve had a good year, you know it’s time for you to give credit to your faithful employees who made it happen.  If the year has lacked, it is time to give encouragement because the success of your business lies delicately in their hands.  As a leader, you can empower your employees to do better through various creative tactics.  in the end, the business will see benefits as well.

Top 3 Tips for Employee Empowerment

  • Involve Them in Volunteering

Being involved in volunteer programs gives people a sense of purpose and self-gratification.  Getting your employees into volunteer projects, working toward a common cause as a whole company, can give them a feeling of empowerment that has benefits within the work place.

Volunteermatch.org explains that company volunteer projects lead to job satisfaction, team building and better communication between employees and upper management.

  • Involve Them in Social Media Efforts

Social media is a tool that many of your employees most likely use outside of the workplace.  Many employees may be experts in this area, but are not engaged in efforts to support the company’s social media footprint.

In December 2011, Unilever launched a campaign putting all their employees as the “Head of Sustainability,” regardless of their actual position within the company.  The Australian Head of Corporate Affairs for the company claimed that employee involvement is the only way to complete the long term goals of their Unilever Sustainable Living Plan, according to Greenbiz.com.  Following this trend, A Brighter Planet 2011 survey on employee engagement said that employers who gave their employees an opportunity to share their ideas were six times more likely to be effective.

Although your initiatives may not involve sustainability, employee engagement has become a topic of conversation within the workplace.  Engaging them in something they are already experts in, social media, can increase the effectiveness of your efforts.  Employees feel empowered and the company sees growth.

  • Involve Them in Financials

Financially speaking, putting together your future projections can be a positive way to boost morale among your employees.  To do this, you want to employ an open-book management strategy, as it has been called by various small business professionals.  This is an excellent way to involve your employees in how their work is affecting the bottom line.  Whether showing your employees projections for the next month, or year, their feeling of involvement will have a positive effect.

When employees know the black and white finances of the company, it gives them a strong, but blunt introduction to how their job progress creates their paycheck.  Employees are compelled to do better work when they can see exactly how their efforts match up with the numbers.

End Results

Using your role as leader, you can empower your employees to make a significant difference within the company.  It works as a positive snowball effect: Your employees feel they are making a difference, in the community and within the company, they feel empowered, morale increases and you see the financial benefits.  You can make this happen by simply taking your leadership role in a more creative direction.

Bio: Jessica Sanders is a guest blogger for HRInsights and writes on topics ranging from social media to telemarketing services. She writes for an online resource that gives advice on topics including background checks for the leading b2b lead generation resource, Resourcenation.com.


Why Small Businesses Fail

They don’t really care about their Employees

Let’s be honest, small business owners and entrepreneurs, most of them, have little experience managing and leading.  They have ideas, they have a passion, they have conviction.  Small businesses don’t grow and don’t succeed because they don’t inspire and manage employees to share the passion of building something.  There is little to no time spent on the basics of management such as organizing files on employees, setting up objectives, showing how these relate to strategy, compensating on results and vision, hiring properly, legal compliance … and providing the direction that comes with the guidance of experienced HR management.

It’s all lip service.  It may be more fun to work at a small company where responsibilities can be more and the pains of bureaucracy less.  But, large businesses do invest in their employees – training, development, benefits, proper legal management, creating an environment free of sexual harassment and other discrimination.  Big businesses think about having some fun and including employees in idea creation and developing better ways to deliver in their markets.

Small businesses are always running, to the next crisis or the next opportunity … why? Because we think that’s what it takes to succeed.  And we are wrong!  Dead wrong!!  Companies grow because they have employees that care about the success, get guidance and accountability … and they create success by resolving problems on their own, delivering great customer service on their own, implementing a way for the company to save money on their  own.  But, that can’t be assumed, it must be nurtured and MANAGED.

I’ve worked at big businesses that really cared about development of employees and we’ve flourished.  I’ve worked at small companies and we don’t have the time.  That’s nonsense and short-sighted.  Financial ownership rarely understands the importance of this too and can become conflicted with these priorities that don’t appear to impact this quarter’s bottom line.  My advice, get some help, it’s not your expertise and you won’t ever make it a priority on your own time.

Governor Christie, Leadership and Sacrifice

During a recent town hall meeting, New Jersey’s Governor Chris Christie recently responded to a teacher’s question about his efforts to address the financial difficulties facing the state’s educational system and his battle with the teacher’s union. The video of their interaction is included below:

In the video, Governor Christie cites that NJ teachers contribute nothing to the cost of their healthcare benefits. A hundred percent of the cost is covered by the taxpayers not only during their time as teachers but, if they attain tenure, for their lifetime. Working with an enormous deficit, Christie was requesting the teachers contribute 1.5% of their pay to offset some of the costs of their benefits, on average, $750 per year. Additionally, he requested that the union freeze salaries for one year (there is a provision guaranteeing 4.9% increases each year). If these items were adopted, minor teacher layoffs would be required and result in ~$700M in savings. The union did not support these programs and many more teachers were let go.

Looking at these proposals from a business perspective and in our current economic client, they seem extremely reasonable. Where is the shared sacrifice? Building a profitable company is a difficult task. There are often times when sacrifice is required on many fronts. Making sacrifices can mean the difference between survival and closing the doors. Employees who cling to entitlement cannot be tolerated. And in these difficult situations, strong leadership is critical. Christie demonstrated the directness and clarity that are needed from a leader. He’s candid and clear. His reaction to the teacher’s eyerolling was beautiful. He doesn’t ignore it. He calls it out. Let’s have some mutual respect. Leadership is about straight talk and honesty. Articulate the problem, the action, the benefits and the consequences. Listen. Take the heat.

And if you have a compensation program that provides employees a 5% increase every year and no matter how they perform or what they contribute to your business, I would love to know why.


I received a call this past week from a former colleague.  She is in the HR profession and she told me her boss had left the company and she wanted to be considered for the position.  We reviewed the responsibilities of the position and I whole-heartedly agreed that she was qualified and would be a great fit for the position.  What intrigued me was that this very skilled and confident HR professional needed affirmation that she was good enough.

As our conversation continued, I learned a new GM had joined the company a few months ago and he would be responsible for hiring the HR Manager to support his organization.  He had specifically told her that he wanted to consider external candidates in addition to any internal candidates.  Of course, this immediately made her doubt her qualifications, skills and experience.  Interestingly, I had to remind her of all the great work she had done when we worked together and the positive impact she had on the business.  How quickly she forgot in the wake of doubt!

The reason I am writing this, is because I can’t help but wonder if the GM realizes the impact he had on her?  Imagine if he had approached her differently or even if he had explained why he wanted to consider external candidates.  Perhaps she would not have started to doubt herself and would have understood the business reasons.  The good news is that she quickly got herself back on track by utilizing her professional support group.  But what about those people who are not outgoing enough to reach out for perspective or those that may not have a support group?  They could be a great fit for the job too but missed out on some extra encouragement.

This really made me think about how influential senior executives can be even in the simplest of interactions.  It made me remember that senior executives can be intimidating just because of the position they hold and not even their actions.

This is just something for business leaders to think about as they communicate with employees.  Don’t “over-egoize” yourself remember employees will read into everything you are saying; be thoughtful about what you say and how you say it.  I don’t have any articles to quote, just my recent experience offering a dose of encouragement to a confident, skilled and outstanding HR professional.