Employee empowerment – sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't
We’ve heard it repeated many times from various experts across different channels: when employees are empowered at work, they are more effective workers and are more committed to their job.
The freedom to work independently can propel people to motivate themselves and be more creative. When employees are empowered in their roles, and don't have to constantly check-in with their boss, they can work with greater speed, tackle bigger responsibilities and in some cases are responsible for how they up-skill themselves. All of this can lead to team members contributing to the business in a big way, on their own accord and without tying up their boss' time.
However, if these added responsibilities and freedoms aren’t provided under the right conditions, employees may experience additional burdens of stress that can hurt their routine performance. In that case, working independently may be harmful for their performance, leading to decreased productivity and confidence in their work.
An employee’s ability to work independently is largely dependent on two things: how experienced they are, and how knowledgeable they are. How do we measure whether an employee has the right amount of experience and knowledge to perform in their role, or whether they need further development?
We can provide further development to employees by providing one or both of the following: direction and support. Direction refers to how much instruction an employee needs to complete tasks. Support is for the level of co-operation they need to complete the task. Whether they need direction, support or both depends on their experience (i.e. time in role) and knowledge (i.e. areas they have been educated or trained in).
Figure 1 – Employee Learning Model
There are different ways to measure employee development across agribusiness segments, individual businesses and individual workers. The diagram above (Figure 1 – Employee Learning Model) is a broad guide that can be used to see what stage of development an employee is at, and whether they need direction, support or both. For a strong team, you would want as many people as possible moving towards LOW SUPPORT, LOW DIRECTION. To get them there, leaders need to be empathetic to their learning journey and identify what type of help they need to perform.
If you’re a leader in agribusiness, ask yourself whether your team needs more direction, more support or if they are truly empowered to work on their own.