Roberta Chinsky Matuson
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Guest Post: Empower Your Talent and Grow Your Business

If you’ve invested significant time and money into finding and hiring the right talent, the question that remains is whether or not you are getting as much out of them as you could be. After all, if you are unable to achieve the levels of performance from an employee that you expect, then any investments you’ve made in searching for, interviewing, hiring, or training is sunk.

In my experience, unfortunately, this isn’t a puzzle that most companies have been able to crack. For those that are serious about finding top talent, the stakes are even higher. Yet once hired we often place employees into an environment and hierarchy that has been in place for decades, one that does little to empower employees to take action on their ideas or collaborate with fellow employees.

What’s my point? Well, I’ll share with you that after nearly two decades working in six different industries for eight companies, I realized that our ability to truly capitalize on our investment in employees doesn’t appear to be a priority for most. Finding talent is important, but what we do with them once we have them is about as archaic and predictable as the moldy cheese.

Here’s the key. If you want to actually obtain a return on your investment in employees, you have to make a further investment in creating an environment that empowers employees to apply their skills and expertise. Put another way, we can’t expect to tap into the high priced and highly skilled talents of today’s workforce by placing them in a working environment that hasn’t changed since before the industrial age. Organizational silos; multiple layers of management; conflicting departmental objectives. These are the remnants of how the industrial age was built; yet our employees, our customers, heck even our suppliers are more advanced then they were fifty years ago, aren’t they?

Of course I’m not suggesting you can wave a magic wand and change your working environment to support employee empowerment, in fact the topic is so complex that it took me over 60,000 words to fully explain how to create this environment in my new book from McGraw Hill, entitled, Operational Empowerment: Collaborate, Innovate and Engage to Beat the Competition. Fortunately there are some simple initial changes you can make that will put you on the path to empowering your employees and capitalizing on your investment.

  1. Solicit feedback: The skill set and education of today’s employees is higher than any other time in history. How are you tapping into this? Do you solicit feedback from employees as to how improvements or changes should be made in the business? If you do, are you quickly taking action on these ideas?
  1. Nurture collaboration: It’s true that two minds are better than one, so three or four must be exponentially more powerful. True maybe, but it’s not as simple as just sticking people in a room. To build collaboration we must focus on creating more synergies across departments, and the easiest way I know to do this is to create cross-functional teams. After all, who says that customer service can’t sit next to accounts receivable? Cross-functional teams build experience and allow employees to make better, more educated decisions. How are you breaking down the silos in your organization?
  1. Facilitative leadership: Now this is a topic that I could write another book on, but the key is this: In today’s world of team based collaboration and learning, having leaders that are directive (i.e. tell the employee what to do) versus facilitative (help them employees to do what they agree they’d like to do) will kill collaboration and morale. The most successful leaders, those that can tap into the collective power and wisdom of your employees, are those that facilitate the needs of the teams and the employees within them. Are your leaders directive or facilitative?

So what do you think? Are you tapping into the talent you’re investing a significant amount of time and money in attracting? Consider the three ideas above as they pertain to your team or business; better yet get your copy of my new book, Operational Empowerment: Collaborate, Innovate and Engage to Beat the Competition here, and learn about how to make a significant shift in your business.

© Shawn Casemore 2016. All rights reserved.

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