Empowering Employees to Find Their Own Answers
Strategies for empowering employees to be resourceful and less reliant on upper management
We all have those few employees who always have a question to ask. These questions can typically be divided into two parts: questions that could be researched elsewhere (like online or in company materials) or questions that have already been asked previously. Sometimes the questioning is a direct result of laziness, but oftentimes it’s a myriad of other things – insecurity, dependence, assurance, and eagerness.
If you notice that your team or a few key employees have started to exclusively lean on you for answers, it might be time to enact new processes that will encourage them to be more self-reliant.
We’ve outlined a few strategies to consider:
Encourage them to answer their own question
An initial strategy for getting employees to stop relying on you for answers is turning their questioning back onto them. If an employee asks a question you think they might already know the answer to and are simply looking for your approval, respond to their question with a “what do you think?” If your instincts are right and they know the answer, encourage them to move forward with it.
If they don’t have the answer, you’ve at least forced them to start thinking through the issue on their own. Once they’ve given their best stab at the answer, you can chime in to finish their thought or lead them in the right direction.
While this strategy can be more of a gradual process that still requires some handholding, it will also teach them to think more strategically.
Emphasize your faith in them
An efficient method for making your employees feel more confident in their decision-making is to ensure you, as the leader or manager, are reiterating your faith and confidence in them. Acknowledge it in one-on-one conversations, in team meetings, and especially when they’ve successfully completed a project. Don’t overdo it in a way that seems disingenuous, but clarify it enough so that they can eventually develop the confidence to make decisions without asking your permission.
Sometimes all your employees are looking for is validation from the top – especially if they’re new employees. This is another strategy that will take a little more time to see change but could also provide some self-reflection for management to determine if they should be doing more to establish their expectations and provide sufficient feedback or mentorship.
Be direct while providing a solution
If you have employees coming to you too often with questions, it is likely stifling both of your productivity. Acknowledge it directly in a non-intimidating way while offering a solution, like a weekly scheduled one-on-one meeting. Introduce the idea with something like, “I’ve noticed you’re not feeling completely comfortable with some of your tasks. To ensure we both are staying productive, why don’t we schedule a weekly time to touch base so that you can review anything you’re unsure about at once.”
This will give your employees an outlet to get the sense of encouragement or advice they’re seeking while reducing the number of distractions you’re receiving.
All the same, if the employee has a list of items they need advice on and are still waiting for your scheduled time, they might be more encouraged to find other ways of getting them addressed before your meeting so they aren’t holding up their tasks. This will leave your scheduled time for more productive (and better) questioning when the time comes.
To help streamline your processes and communications, consider outside advice
At AHA! Business Consulting we are driven by one goal: giving business owners their time back by creating order out of chaos. If you don’t have the time or patience to enact these strategies – or are looking for advice on how to properly execute on them – we are the team for you.
Our wealth of experience and customized solutions for engaging teams make us able tailor our services to any industry – specifically managing frontline employees. We can provide anything you need to mentor your employees to bring out their best. Learn more about our consulting services and contact us today for a free consultation.