It’s clear that COVID-19 has turned everyone’s world upside down. It’s affecting not only how work gets done, but it’s also profoundly affecting how your employees feel about the future of their careers. Now more than ever, it’s critical organizations find ways to ensure their employees feel safe, connected and empowered to take personal ownership over their careers.
How can business leaders promote employee empowerment now and in the eventual “back-to-normal” future?
12 thought leaders have shared some inspiration, learnings and tips on what they’re doing to empower their employees. We hope you find some of these talent strategies useful as we all strive to continue supporting the growth and development of our teams in the face of the current global health crisis, and then in the brighter future… whenever that finally comes.
Show your employees they have a future.
Your people are the most important part of your organization. Companies will say this, but often don’t take the measures needed to actually show it. The best way to show your employees that you care about them and their career growth by giving them a clear view of what’s next for them at your organization and what they need in order to be successful in the long term. Don’t risk losing your best people only because they can’t visualize their future at your company…. Show don’t tell.
Jamie Schneiderman, Career Spark
Keep It Informal
I always encourage employees to talk to me about things informally, including where they want their career to go. We have had a number of team members who have changed careers within our small company, and one who created her own position. Keeping an open mind is the key. Sometimes, people need to change positions to reach their potential or be truly happy. People do the things they love best!
Eric Blumenthal, The Print Authority
Of course, I have a bias that career coaches could help companies with this. I believe that the best way to empower employees is to be transparent with them and trust them to take the good news and the bad while enabling them to make rapid decisions.
Terra Carbert, The Career Mindset Coach
Know the “Human” Element
To be a successful staffing firm we have to know the “human” element behind a candidate. The same is true for our employees. How can you empower an employee when you don’t understand what drives them? Before lighting a fire under an employee, take the time to learn what lights their fire.
Michael Bratta, Interim HR
Focus on Individual Strengths
There are emerging technology tools out there to help match individual and personal strengths to all roles in an organization. Helping build a career journey based on those individual strengths while the employee is progressing could help increase retention and actively show the employee you are invested in their success. Include resources that would also give them opportunities outside your organization if they are not available andbuild alumni communities for those who leave but may want to return in the future.
Mark E Christensen, A Few Trusted Resources
Give Them the Tools to Leave
Everyone deserves the chance to be classified as “high potential.” That happens through coaching and access to learning opportunities. When I was a new manager, I did not have access to leadership coaching, seminars, or any type of special training. Let’s make sure we arm every new manager with the tools to succeed and build confidence. My favorite perspective is, “To keep your best employees, prepare them to leave.”
Marti Konstant, Workplace Futurist
Establish a Mentoring System
People are often afraid to ask for help or sometimes they don’t even know where to ask. Ask them where they want to go and pair them with a person who can get them there. After that, it’s up to them. People are ultimately in charge of where they go. It’s the old, “you can lead a horse to water” adage.
Meagan DeMenna, Validity
Don’t Abandon Your Employees
Although we say that employees are in charge of their careers, the processes and mechanisms to do so are solely within the employer’s control. Employee reviews are a perfect example. Those meetings are scheduled and led by the manager, but directly impact the employee. Internal advocacy and support are important, but it’s not enough; there is still the temptation to maintain the status quo and squash innovation and employee growth. External support via career coaches is an excellent resource because it helps the employee own their career plan, versus asking the employee to manage it.
Maisha Hagan, Beauty & the Boss, LLC
Professional Development Plans
I think every company should have a professional development plan of some kind! What that plan is and how it is organized is highly dependent on your industry, but at the end of the day, it should be flexible and agile. Static plans won’t grow with your company, and they certainly won’t help your employees evolve with it either!
Nikitha Lokareddy, Markitors
Give Them the Freedom to Be Awesome
One of my favorite quotes is from Andrew Mason, Founder of Groupon: “Hire great people and give them the freedom to be awesome.” That’s the mentality we take at our company. We make sure to hire talent that is culturally aligned to our mission and values. And then, we look to provide them with enough freedom so that they can take hold of their career. From a company culture perspective, when there’s the freedom to move around, then employees do great things.
Ryan Nouis, TruPath
Hire People Who Have the Mindset
We pride ourselves on hiring and developing a trained staff that has taken ownership of their career. One way to ensure that employees are going to take control of their careers is to screen for it during the hiring process. It’s very hard to empower an employee when they don’t want to be empowered. But if theyalready feel empowered before starting at your company, then that mission becomes much easier to accomplish. Screen for empowerment, and you’ll get an empowered workforce.
Henry Babich, Stomadent Dental Laboratory
Keep an Open Mind
Internally, companies must keep an open mind when it comes to their employees’ talents. Just because someone started as a marketing intern doesn’t mean they can’t code your new mobile website. Someone hired for clerical work could make an excellent trainer. Give your employees a chance to use all their talents and grow within your organization. They will be happier and more loyal, and you’ll be more successful.
Chryssa Rich, Primary Health Medical Group
Career Spark’s Mission: Getting everyone in their right jobs to drive success at work.