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The phrase, “empower your employees” has become somewhat controversial, says A. Harrison Barnes, career coach and founder of the renowned job aggregate site Hound.com. Many employers take exception to those who insist it’s their role to empower their employees. The purpose, however, seems to get lost in translation. While it’s certainly not an employer’s responsibility to motivate or energize an employee, there are things every employer can do that will empower those who work for him. In fact, it’s not so much what an employer does, but rather, it’s what he doesn’t do that really makes a major difference in the overall work environment. A. Harrison Barnes explains, “When an employer provides definitive ideas of what he expects a project to look like at its conclusion and then steps back in a leap of faith, his employees feel more empowered. They feel as though there’s trust in their abilities and experience and they are far more likely to present a project that they are extremely proud of”. On the other hand, Barnes continues, “Those employers who assign a project and then follow up three times a day, checks in with others involved with the project for a “status update” and generally attempt to babysit the employees from start to finish, there is a good possibility that resentment will kick in and the employees will detach themselves from the pride that goes into a job well done”.

It makes sense, according to career coaches all over the country. It’s little wonder that employees say that’s their biggest frustration at the office – the sense that they are not allowed the opportunity to really show their capabilities. We all want to know confidence has been placed in us; it’s just human nature, says the Hound.com founder. We’re going to be far better equipped with each new project if we’re not hindered by a boss who feels as though he has to micromanage the team at every turn. So how can a strong leader delegate and then step back with confidence in his team? Barnes offers these tips:

” Communication is crucial, but not in the way a manger might think. You already know you can ask for updates, after all, you’re the boss, right? Your goal should be to reiterate to your team that they are free to come to you with any glitches or problems they encounter. Sounds easy enough, right? The trick is trusting that they’ll do that and not panicking by the fourth day when you realize no one’s approached you.

” Showing your support is the biggest and most important leap of faith you can extend your employees. No one’s saying you should remove yourself from the project, but if you’ve assigned different roles, every few days, stick your head in the door for a quick, “everything running OK? Do you need anything?” and then trusting that their reply of, “everything’s good and so far, we have everything we need” is accurate.

” Understand that while your team might have had an absolute clear understanding of what you expect, sometimes after you’re into a project, the priorities shift. This where being an excellent leader comes into play. When the priorities shift, your goal is to shift the expectations accordingly.

Empowering your employees doesn’t mean you babysit or hand-hold; in fact, it’s just the opposite.

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