The concept of empowering your employees is trending. It is a trend that should have started trending long ago. When done correctly your team can run like a well-oiled machine and free up a good amount of your time. Be careful though, sometimes the difference between empowering and dictating tasks you don’t want to do become a blurred line and your staff is left unmotivated and soon they begin a new job hunt. Here are some useful suggestions on how to empower not dictate.

Through experience and trial and error, you will find ways to empower your staff based on your company culture and values. Based off of my personal experience in the child care business, here are eight ways you can start empowering your staff today!

1. Demonstrate That You Value People. Your regard for people shines through in all of your actions and words. Your facial expression, your body language, and your words express what you are thinking about the people who report to you. Your goal is to demonstrate your appreciation for each persons unique value. No matter how a teacher is performing on his or her current task, your value for them as a human being should never falter and always be visible.

2. Share Your Vision. Empowered employees feel as if they know the big picture. Help people feel that they are part of something bigger than themselves and their individual job. Do this by making sure they know and have access to the organization’s overall mission, vision, and strategic plans. Better? Include teachers in the actual planning on any level and ask for their input on the overall plan. They will have tons to offer and surprise you with their commitment and competency.

3. Trust Your Staff. Trust the intentions of people to do the right thing, make the right decision, and make choices that, while may not be exactly what you would decide, still work. When employees receive clear expectations from their director, they relax and trust you. Then they can focus their energy on accomplishing, not on wondering, worrying, and second-guessing.

4. Delegate Authority and Impact Opportunities. Don’t just delegate the drudge work, delegate some of the fun stuff, too. You know, delegate the important events, the curriculum and field trips. They will grow and develop new skills. Your plate will be less full so you can concentrate on your center and the big picture. They will shine gratefully – and so will you!

5. Provide Frequent Feedback. Provide frequent feedback so that people know how they are doing. Sometimes the purpose of feedback is to reward and recognize. Other times it gives you an opportunity to do some improvement coaching. Your staff deserves your constructive feedback so they can continue to develop their knowledge and skills.

6. Help Solve Problems.  Don’t pinpoint problem people. When a problem occurs, ask what is wrong with the work system that caused the people to fail, not what is wrong with the people.

7. Listen to Learn and Ask Questions to Provide Guidance. Provide a space in which people will communicate by listening to them and asking them questions. Guide by asking, not telling another adult what to do. People generally know the right answers if they have the opportunity to produce them.

8. Help Your Team Feel Rewarded and Recognized for Empowered Behavior. When they feel under-compensated, under-praised or under-appreciated for the responsibilities they take on, don’t expect results from employee empowerment. The basic needs of the person must feel met for them to give you their discretionary energy, that extra effort that people voluntarily invest in work. For successful employee empowerment, recognition plays a significant role.