5 reasons why empowerment in the work place matters.
Updated: Jul 19, 2019
We've all had experience of horrible bosses. I started my first time job when I was 16. I hated it. It was in a local tea room and paid £3.50 an hour. The boss was irritable and never inspired her employees to do well. But it's the positive ones, the ones who trust and have faith in their employees who produce the best workers. One of my favourite managers, and the one I still think of when I put my skills into practice, was in my second job. I worked under two separate managers at the time, but this one in particular is the one I think of when I look back on my time in Waterstones. She inspired such a trust that I was 16/17 and would comfortably manage a shop floor alone.
She created an atmosphere in which employees could get on and go about their work for the day. She was friendly, encouraging and always guaranteed you five minutes to talk. She once personally thanked me for my performance in a mystery customer survey. I had bluffed my knowledge of World War 2 books and the woman wrote that I'd been really helpful. We placed 10th in the region that month.
However it really comes down to feeling trusted by your manager to do your job. I was used to mystery customer service by then and felt completely comfortable, even though I knew very little about the topic.
So whenever I've been employed since it is these kind of managers I take learning from.
1. A happy employee = a flourishing work place. Employers who encourage innovation and creativity will create a vibrant working environment. Employees who are given free reign to test their ideas will produce better results.
2. Better sales. Sounds selfish, but when employees are trusted in their skills and abilities, they produce better sales. A customer is more likely to buy something from someone who obviously loves the products they sell. And come back. It also encourages better return on project results. Coordinators and managers who are comfortable in allowing employees to explore new avenues, will create wider options for their projects.
3. Longer employment rates. This one's a no-brainer. Create a fun and open environment, and your employees will stick around. I stayed for two years in one branch, then moved city - and therefore branch. I couldn't even make it through a year there. Once the creatives left, I lost the motivation to care about what I was doing. Certain jobs will just have a tough spec that won't suit your personality but again, I have searched for more opportunities in offices where I have enjoyed the work and the environment.
4. Better customer engagement. I officially left Waterstones four years ago but I still have discussions with people about the attitude of Waterstones employees to what they do versus WHSmith. Unless it's cheaper on Amazon, customers *do* recognise that Waterstones has a lot more care in what it does! Employees are trained to care and be knowledgeable in what they sell - mine was in Reference (Academics, Classics, Theatre, Travel, Languages and History). I spoke to the editor of a magazine who has terminated her agreement with WHSmiths because she doesn't like their attitude of selling.
5. They look up to you. I am taking from their style and exploring it in my own way of management. Again, there are two/three who come to mind when I think of who I have learned from. And they have all been ones who treat others like equals round the table, listen to all sides but still know where to make the final decision needed by a manager. I've been taking note since I was 16, so if you're a manager/director/boss, sit up and pay attention. You have the ability to create the next generation of leaders. How will you do this?
Point is, creating a space for empowerment in the work place does wonders for your organisation. If you think you can do all this for your workers, you're on to some fantastic results. You not only inspire your employees, but customers too.
I've noticed it in the work I've done - good and bad - and I've also spoken to others about it. I'm not allowed to which one, but at the beginning of July I went into a branch of a very well-known designer and got talking to one of the workers in there.
Even at higher levels, it just goes to show the difference it makes in empowering your employees and the way it sets them apart from other high end fashion stores. If I'd had the money, I would have bought the lot knowing what I know about the line. It's incredible!
So this brings me to my conclusion, as a young worker diving into the full time work pool, I want to raise awareness around empowerment in the workplace. I want to celebrate one such charity that promotes just this: the Global Seesaw charity.
With offices based in Southampton, Global Seesaw advocates empowering women in India who come from human and sex trafficking and give them new life. These women create jewellery, bags and clothing from up cycled material. It's truly wonderful and the message around this is so positive and inspiring!
I want to show as a community that we can rise to the occasion and make our own contribution.
I'm making a call out to all locals - or wider if you so wish - to come and get involved on Friday 16th September at 5pm.
If you're an acoustic musician or band, we want to hear from you! Mettrick's Guildhall and I are offering slots of 45 minutes for free. So come on and down show us what you got!
There will be a cocktail especially for the night (with a portion of the sale going back to the charity), there will be Global Seesaw merchandise, there will be music and food. There will even be a speech from the charity themselves!
It's going to be a wonderful event! Come and get involved! Let's show what we can do to empower others!!
Get in touch (firstname.lastname@example.org) and I can't wait to see you there!