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The Five Ps of Empowerment

Empower your employees to make their own decisions and add value to your business.

By Joyce Weiss

Do these questions and concerns sound familiar to you?

  • How can I encourage my staff to make logical decisions when I am not present?
  • My staff fears making mistakes. How can I encourage them to take calculated risks so our company stays current?
  • How can we act as a team instead of as a group of individuals striving for separate goals?
  • Training is so important; yet I wonder about the capabilities of some of my staff.
  • My staff isn’t motivated. They come to work and rush to the back room for coffee. I really want them to interact with our clients more.
  • What can I do to improve morale around here?

If you are grappling with these and other issues, the solution may lie in one word: empowerment. Empowerment gives staff an inner source of strength—a feeling of confidence to act on their own authority. And because it also creates a professional impression to your clients, it’s your job to empower your staff. To do it, practice what I call the Five Ps of empowerment. As you do, you will transform your staff into a team of motivated people brought together by the same objectives and with the authority to make things happen.

If you really want to empower your staff to change and take risks, stand by them even if they fail.

The first step to empowering your staff is to give them permission to make decisions and to take risks by trying new ideas or products.

Be prepared. Your staff may say, “I’m not ready yet,” “I might fail,” or “I don’t know enough.” Don’t let them off the hook. Encourage your staff to look within to see how they are setting up roadblocks to their success. Here are some motivational statements:

  • “Everyone fears new things when they are on unfamiliar territory.”
  • “The only way to get rid of the fear of doing something is to go out and do it.”
  • “There are three kinds of people: those who make things happen, those who watch things happen and those who wondered what happened!”

If you really want to empower your staff to change and take risks, stand by them even if they fail. If they make a mistake, ask this very important question: “What did you learn, and how would you handle it differently if this situation comes up again?” Another technique—risky but powerful—is to share one of your own mistakes at your next staff meeting. Then ask who can beat it with a better blooper. Sharing can be frightening, but it also encourages your staff to talk about their mistakes without fear of embarrassment.

One of the biggest mistakes managers make is to fail to share their mission with the entire staff. Sharing your vision, the company’s direction, expectations and customer philosophy will encourage staff to think about, and take on new challenges. To get the ball rolling, include your entire staff in creating and revising your mission statement. The process of writing down the vision statement will force staff to focus on internal and external customer requirements, market changes and industry trends—another path to empowerment.

Empowerment is not something that can be given; it must be taken. Those who have it and want to share it can provide the conditions and the language that make it possible for those who need it to take it.

Encourage your staff to think of themselves as the owners of their own careers. Help them learn features and benefits of every product and service in your practice and provide training and motivation regularly.

Train your staff—support as well as sales—to educate and listen to the clients’ needs. Role-play with common objections to prepare your staff for rejection. For added reinforcement, bring in consultants or buy or rent training tapes. These work well and your staff will appreciate your concern with kaisen, the Japanese word for constant improvement.

Empowered teams know their work will be appreciated and recognized. Let your staff know how well they are doing daily, not just once a year. While people deserve to be treated with respect, they must earn recognition. Let them know the success of the business is partly due to their efforts and achievements.

Set the tone
To develop employee who feel passionate about their jobs, you must set the tone. Use the Five Ps of empowerment, and you will see an improvement in morale, an increase in productivity and greater success.

Joyce Weiss is chief morale officer of Bold Solutions to Boost the Bottom Line. She shows leaders easy ways to increase morale. For more information, visit or call 800-713-1926.


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