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Empowering Your Employees

Avatar photo by Casey Woods, Executive Director | November 10, 2016
In the fourth quarter, most businesses find themselves in a flurry of activity with promotions, events, and seasonal help. In previous articles we have discussed the importance of finding a balance between work and life and the ability to reduce workplace stress. During fourth quarter finding that balance can be additionally challenging. 
Often business owners, feel that the entire weight of the business’ success falls on their shoulders. While this is true in many cases, business owners can relieve some of this stress by finding ways to empower their employees. Many managers feel that by empowering employees, they relinquish the responsibility to lead and control the organization. This is not the case. For an organization to empower their team, management must trust and communicate with employees.  This communication may include: elements of your strategic plan, financial performance, key performance indicators and daily-decision making.
Employee empowerment has been described and defined in many ways. But it breaks down to allowing your employees to have a degree of decision makingpower which then allows you to focus on the bigger picture items. For example, some businesses employ the $5 rule. Meaning if a customer has an issue or complaint that can be adjusted and falls under $5, then employees have the ability to fix the issue without calling for your approval.
In other cases, employees can help with merchandising products or the visual layout of your store. Instead of always giving detailed instructions on how to set up a display, or doing it yourself, give your staff the chance to stretch out their creative skills. If there is something you want displayed in a specific way, make sure they know that, but let them create the overall display. You might be surprised to see how much they enjoying doing it and see how much time it frees up for you. 
Encouraging the creativity and initiative of your staff is one of the most important things you can do as a business owner.  Do members of your staff fall into the target market of your ideal customer? If so, LISTEN to them. If they are telling you that one type of Social Media works well for this target group, then you might consider creating an account. If they are telling you that theirdemographic responds  to a certain way of advertising, then look into it. Before this fall, Main Street wasn’t very active on Instagram, but we received feedback that college students use it to gather information. After re-creating our account and posting daily, we have seen a great response. 
When you empower your team, they not only feel that their work contributes to the success of the business but they also develop a deeper sense of pride in and accountability for your business.   By taking some of these issues/tasks off your plate, you can focus on initiatives that have a large impact on you business…and you might even find yourself a little less tense when you leave the store for the day, knowing your employees have it covered!

About the Author

Casey Woods, Executive Director

Before accepting the director position in March of 2009, Casey worked in both retail and agricultural jobs in the family businesses. A lifelong resident of the Emporia Area, Casey was a ten year volunteer for Emporia Main Street prior to his appointment as director. During that time he served as the board president and chair of the Economic Vitality Committee.

Casey also serves as a partner in PlaceMakers, LLC, a consulting firm that routinely works with both large and small communities, and their businesses, to promote sustainable economic growth through community and economic development practices. Casey consults with businesses, organizations and communities to understand their market capacity and fill vacant spaces. He has been involved in two projects that included crowdfunding as a part of their overall business funding strategies, Radius Brewing and Twin Rivers Winery & Gourmet Shoppe.