Many companies have found a direct correlation between customer satisfaction and employee satisfaction. Companies like Disney and FedEx are known for their strong customer service. They understand that to give outstanding customer service, employees must be empowered.
Empowering employee’s means giving them or someone who manages them the authority to do whatever it takes to satisfy the customer. Often you have to trust your employees to make the right decision without waiting for management to give approval. This level of empowerment requires that employees be trained to recognize and act on opportunities to improve customer service. Managers must remove the constraints that keep employees from making decisions on their own. They also must give the employees the confidence that their contributions do make a difference. It is not just “being nice” to employees that leads them to give better customer service. The continuous improvement of the organizational processes removes many hassles that produce disgruntled employees, who in turn produce dissatisfied customers.
1. Empowered Employees
Some of the benefits of employee empowerment for the employee include:
- Workers feel they are given the opportunity to do what they do best every day.
- They believe their opinion counts.
- They sense their fellow workers are committed to quality.
- They’ve made a direct connection between their work and the company’s mission.
Giving employees responsibility for their own work has led not only to improvements in motivation, customer service, and morale, but also to improvements in quality, productivity, and the speed of decision-making.
Empowering employees does not mean there are no limits. Managers must explain what responsibility and authority rests with employees. They must understand their role and why they are being empowered. Share with them the concept of empowerment and how working together with management they will be more effective in their job. You cannot just hold a meeting once a week or once a month and encourage everyone to work harder. Give the people who do the work the power to put changes and improvements into place that will make them more productive and provide a higher quality product. Once employees learn the limitations and what their role is, they will appreciate the trust that is shown to them.
3. Empowerment Vs Delegation
Managers are used to delegating tasks to others. Empowerment and delegation is not the same thing. Many managers delegate, but maintain total control and place restraints on the scope of the delegation. Empowerment removes those restraints from the employee. It is giving a task to an employee along with the authority and trust to make the best decision on how to do the job. This release of control is often difficult for managers, but it is essential for empowerment to work. Control freak managers do not do well in empowered companies.
4. Empowerment Is Not For Everyone
Not all employees are not receptive or capable of empowerment. Some lack the confidence in their abilities to act without management’s approval. Before you empower an employee be sure they are capable of handling the responsibility that is being given to them. Employees must understand they are not being given a free rein to do as they will. They need to understand that with responsibility comes accountability. Some employees with jump at the chance to play a larger role in their job. Others will freeze like a deer in headlights, unable to act without the control of management. While empowerment is not for everyone, employees who do not show they are capable of empowerment need to be coached and trained. While this may not make them capable of empowerment, it will educate them on the concept and allow them to work with others who are.
Empowerment of employees can lead to improved customer service by giving the employee the power and the trust to make improvements without waiting for the approval of management. Empowering employees will increase their productivity and quality. It lets the people who actually do the work to decide how they best way to do it is. It gives those who are in touch with customers and circumstances to use their best judgment and abilities to do what is best for the company. Empowerment brings employees into the team. It encourages them to align their priorities with those of the company. They understand what is good for the company is good for them. Empowerment will not work with every employee. Some are not capable or do not have the confidence to act without managements approval. These employees should be encouraged and coached. If they lack the skills then perhaps empowerment is not meant for them. Photo Credit: Liam Quinn