How Employee Empowerment Really Works | Manager with employee

How Employee Empowerment Really Works

How Employee Empowerment Really Works | Manager with employee

Employee empowerment can take many forms; however, at it’s most fundamental, it can be broken down into two types: actual and psychological.

By its nature, empowerment starts at the top. Empowerment must first be given by those who have the power to do so. This is actual empowerment, the granting of increased roles, responsibilities, and authority.

Then it must be embraced by those who have been given greater authority. This is psychological empowerment, how employees feel about using the powers they’ve been granted.

Are they comfortable using the power they have? Do they feel safe making decisions to help the customer without any form of approval from a superior?

Academics studying the empowerment generally consider these two types to be separate and distinct phenomena.

Why Understanding Psychological Empowerment Is Crucial

As you will hear in the video below, organizations often don’t consider the psychological piece when empowering employees. Worse, for companies that are shifting culturally from a command and control approach to a more empowered one, the psychological piece is the most important.

Just because you grant employees more power and authority, they still might not feel empowered. And when employees don’t feel empowered, they are unlikely to use the tools you have given them to resolve customer issues promptly and on the spot.

Employee empowerment is an effective and powerful tool for creating more rewarding experiences for your employees and customers alike. Done smartly, empowerment can give employees the tools and authority they need to make customer experiences more successful and operations more profitable.

However, leadership must help bridge the gap between actual and psychological empowerment.

Don’t just give your team more power; make sure they truly feel empowered. Click To Tweet

If you can create a team that is both empowered smartly and which is ready to use their empowerment to improve customer experiences, empowerment can be an effective tool for creating Hero-Class® customer experiences.

Just remember though, that without psychological empowerment, actual empowerment is of limited value.

Without psychological empowerment, employee empowerment is of limited value. Click To Tweet

For more on employee empowerment, make sure to check out our fantastic resource: The Ultimate Starter Guide to Employee Empowerment.

Also, want to see how the legendary Ritz-Carlton approaches empowerment? Check out The Ritz-Carlton’s Famous $2,000 Rule.

About 

By Adam Toporek. Adam Toporek is an internationally recognized customer service expert, keynote speaker, and workshop leader. He is the author of Be Your Customer's Hero: Real-World Tips & Techniques for the Service Front Lines (2015), as well as the founder of the popular Customers That Stick® blog and co-host of the Crack the Customer Code podcast.

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5 replies
  1. Jeff Toister
    Jeff Toister says:

    You are so right about the psychology. The number #1 obstacle to employee empowerment, according customer service managers, is employees don’t realize what they’re actually empowered to do.

    I’ve found this typically comes from employees taking a task-oriented approach to their job, rather than an outcome-oriented approach.

    Reply
    • Adam Toporek
      Adam Toporek says:

      That’s a great point Jeff! I would only add that we need to know the #1 obstacle employees feel they have; management may think it’s educational (employees don’t know what they can do) when if you dig deeper it’s actually emotional (employees aren’t comfortable doing it). I think both lenses are important.

      Reply

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