Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime. The same is for employee enablement - a holistic approach where employees are empowered with the right set of tools and resources to not just deliver quality results but also continually reinvent themselves. Read on to understand how leaders and organizations can put together a set-up that curates and drives employee enablement culture, transforms each employee into an enablement influencer, and nurtures and evolves the enablement mindset.
All forward-thinking organizations invest in curating a culture of employee enablement. The leaders of such organizations firmly believe in it. The employees feel emphatically connected to what they are doing and understand completely how their work contributes to the organization’s vision. Organizations with such a mindset consider it as a ‘must-have’ value in all honesty and execution. Faith is placed on an ‘employee-first approach’ where each employee demonstrates organizational citizenship behavior. Think companies like Zappos, Southwest Airlines, Virgin Atlantic, and Adobe to just name a few.
In an employee enablement culture, the approach is for employees to feel empowered, work with autonomy, have flexibility, and operate like intrapreneurs. They are enthusiastically focused and aligned with the organization’s core business outcomes and deliverables. This allows for a win-win situation for all involved stakeholders – employees, organizations, customers, and investors.In an employee enablement culture, the approach is for employees to feel empowered, work with autonomy, have flexibility, and operate like intrapreneurs. Click To Tweet
To coin my definition for employee enablement – it is a holistic approach where employees are:
- Provided the right environment that empowers ownership.
- Served with the right resources, skills, tools and technology to set them up for success.
- Involved in business critical decision making.
- Encouraged to have an appetite for risk tolerance is high and elements like creativity, innovation, out of box thinking are developed as a natural way of working
- Encouraged to chalk out and contribute towards their career path with continuous and ongoing learning
- Directed towards a thinking shift from a Fixed to a Growth Mindset
Let’s look at some ways in which we can put together a set-up that facilitates and flourishes employee enablement.
Create an Experience from the Pre-Onboarding Phase
Would it not be fantastic to utilize the ‘wait time’ of notice period to start sowing the seeds of enablement? Allow newly hired employees to experience your organization’s enablement persona by
- Sharing success case studies on key past projects.
- Ask and involve their opinion on current projects that eventually they would contribute to post joining.
- Invite them over to spend a day (in person or even virtually) with their peers, RM and the core leadership team.
- Share regular business updates to give them a flavor of your overall vision, goals and culture.
It sets up a great foundation to promote an employee enablement culture and build on that momentum once the new hires begin their journey of getting formally inducted. This exposure sets the right tone for them to come to you with a clear mindset of enablement and empowerment right from day one of onboarding.
Every Stakeholder Must Act as an “Enablement Influencer”
HR must work hard to bring all stakeholders under the same roof, carrying the same conviction and inwardly looking at themselves as enthusiastic enablement influencers. This can be accomplished when organizations bring about the highest level of awareness on:
With a positive intent of transforming each employee into an enablement influencer, HR must strategically work closely with internal leaders to create such an infrastructure. HR must in a way of design thinking ensure continuous reiteration on preparation, communication, education and spreading benefit awareness that comes to the fore by the power of employee enablement.
- Business direction, goals, strategy and key priorities.
- Global impact they intend to have by solving the problem statement they are working on.
- Educating about the organization’s vision and mission and most importantly, how they fit in to make it a reality.
- Make the ‘why’ and ‘how’ clear to all employees. Let them learn how their individual contribution is aligned to support the bigger organizational purpose and achievements.
With a positive intent of transforming each employee into an enablement influencer, HR must strategically work closely with internal leaders to create such an infrastructure. HR must in a way of design thinking ensure continuous reiteration on preparation, communication, education and spreading benefit awareness that comes to the fore by the power of employee enablement. It must be treated as a top priority for all stakeholders with a commitment of no compromise at any level.
Curate, Nurture and Evolve the “Enablement Mindset”
An intentional mindset that inspires and is supportive of employee enablement is paramount to what level of success one can hope to achieve in this objective. It thus becomes critical to invest in the following attributes to foster an effective enablement mindset:
- Top management must be united to allow employee enablement to breathe comfortably. They must lead by example and express trust in employees by empowering them to independently strategise on key projects. The role they play becomes more of providing guidance and direction.
- Ensure we have ongoing training that facilitates enablement. Consider topics like decision making, agility and adaptability, taking a calculative risk, etc. Make such content available as e-learning modules on your learning management system platform/tool.
- Make enablement as one of your organization’s core values. Make it visible and vibrant on meeting/conference room walls, reception area and even cafeteria. Talk about it in your town halls and other strategic meetings.
- Allow people to fail and make mistakes. Educate them to learn quickly and be resilient to continuous improvement.
- Encourage a spirit of intrapreneurship, creativity and innovation. Openly celebrate it to act as inspiration for all employees.
Overall the top think tank must believe that investment in employee enablement is ultimately an investment in an organization’s business and financial performance. Just as Sir Richard Branson puts it – “I’m often asked what it is that makes Virgin different. The simple answer is – our people. If it weren’t for a bunch of well trained, motivated, and above all, happy people doing their bit, we’d have never launched a record label, never mind a fleet of 747s.”
Role of First Time Managers
More often individuals are promoted to a manager role due to their technical competencies. The element of coaching and enabling does not come to them naturally and we notice an immediate gap. Hence, a robust first-time manager program becomes essential. Help them to understand that management or measuring employee performance is not what you want to do or be known as. The magic potion for success is enablement. This sows early seeds into laying a solid foundation for this very important vertical in the organization to understand, learn and be equipped to practice, display and preach employee enablement. It will allow them to constantly self-evaluate and look for answers to the following questions:
- Are we equipping our teams with access to the right materials, resources and information for them to do their job well?
- Do we have the right technology as an enabler to support enablement?
- Are we aligning our team members to projects and scope of work that makes the best use of their competencies?
- How often do we involve our team members to participate in decision making?
- Are we creating a platform to promote employee psychological safety?
- What is our L&D infrastructure? Is it supportive of employee enablement?
Befriending technology in today’s world where businesses are evolving at an accelerated pace, becomes more critical than ever before. Put up a good strategy to adopt the right technology and application that can support employee enablement and deliver the desired outcome.
This direction will continuously encourage first-time managers to make employee enablement a core part of their DNA and how they operate to elevate enablement not on few occasions but each waking day at work.
Enablement is Incomplete Without Technology
Imagine a situation where employees are excited about the problem statement they are working on, have talented peers, feel motivated but lack effective enablement to succeed in their role. Does that not sound like a disaster? If they lack enablement, it will lead to disappointment and ultimately a frustrating exit. Technology acts as a catalyst to bridge that gap. Organizations must think loud and clear on how technology can fast track their vision of employee enablement. Befriending technology in today’s world where businesses are evolving at an accelerated pace, becomes more critical than ever before. Put up a good strategy to adopt the right technology and application that can support employee enablement and deliver the desired outcome.
Closing Thoughts | The Employee Engagement Master-key
When you provide food to someone hungry, you feed them for that moment. But when you teach someone to catch a fish, you enable them to not go hungry ever again. I find the same to be true for employee enablement. The most important cog in any organizations’ wheel is its human resources, and their ability to perform plus deliver business results to the best of their capabilities. Curate and drive a culture of employee enablement and you will have paved a way where each employee can be set up for repetitive success as they proudly work and exceed expectations not just one time but each and every time! The idea should be to really look forward and improve rather than looking back and measuring what you have proved in the past – employee enablement culture is that magic potion to get you to put that idea into fruition!