Empower your employees

I recently came across an article on LinkedIn, written by Jeff Haden of Inc. Magazine. He listed 10 things that exceptional bosses give their employees. The following eight items represent what I try to give my employees so that they can give me their best.

What does my team needs from me in order to give me what I need.

1. Autonomy and independence

I care when it’s MINE. I care when I am empowered to do what’s right. Autonomy and independence doesn’t mean that it’s a free for all and employees can do whatever they want. It means that my organization has processes in place to create a frame work for success. Within that framework employees are empowered to continually improve those processes and even deviate from them in order to do the “right” thing for the customer and ultimately the organization.

2. Clear expectations

There are very clear expectations regarding what the “right” things to do are based on the values that drive your organization. If expectations are clear, and the team is aware of what is going on, and why things are done the way they are done, then employees can actually contribute. 

3. Meaningful objectives

Your team needs to understand what goals the organization is working toward and very specifically how they can contribute to it. We have goals for efficiency in every department. It’s always a race. Whether it’s packing a batch of cookies or decorating a cake, times are documented and we work to beat our times while still putting out a quality product. We know how long it should take and celebrate when it happens faster. It’s not enough to have goals. People need to see measurements so that they can track improvement.

4. A true sense of purpose 

Teams need to understand how their behavior directly impacts the business for the good and the bad. They need to see and hear how and when they have made a difference.

5. Opportunities to provide significant input

Team members know their jobs better than you do. They need to be given the opportunity to continuously develop new processes, formulas and products. This creates a sense of ownership. If your vision is continuously communicated, then you’ll be able to implement those ideas. We have a very specific process for implementing new ideas to ensure that they fit our criteria regarding profitability and quality standards.

6. A real sense of connection 

The sense of connection isn’t just with the organization but it is with other team members as well. We accomplish this by providing opportunities for staff to connect with one another. This is done through weekly huddles, companywide weekly emails from the owner, potlucks, celebrating department and individual successes, team building exercises and celebrating anything we can think of to celebrate inside and outside of work. The more team members are connected to each other and their leaders, the more they feel vested in the company.

7. Private criticism & public praise 

Team members want to know they are on track and doing well and when they are not so they can fix it. If you approach everyone assuming they have positive intentions, redirection and praise will be much easier to give. Remember to say it when you see it, publicly if it’s good and privately when it’s negative.

8. A chance for a meaningful future

Every job should have the potential to lead to something greater, whether it’s within your company or not. Find out what your employees hopes and dreams are for the future and help to develop them. In our industry, it may mean taking on a different role within the bakery, or working a specific shift that enables them to spend more time with family. Whatever it is, take the time to find out. If you take the time to listen and really care about your team, you’ll find that they, in turn, will care about your company.