Empowering your team is essential to both the members' individual successes, as well as to the achievement of the common goals—and ultimately to the bottom line. There are plenty of easy, free ways to do it every day. Spoiler alert: It can be as easy as saying thank you.
Here are 10 ways to empower a team right now.
1. Trust people
Really trust the members of your team—and don't just pay lip service in the interest of tossing around a great buzz word. “This is the most important, and often the first to go out the window,” says Aurelian Marketing Group C.E.O. Rehan Choudhry. “Trust from a leader is 50 percent about hiring the right people and 50 percent about a leader getting over their own insecurities. In your next meeting, assign a big project to each of your team members. It has to be something that you are directly responsible for. Start clearing off your personal checklist and you'll find your team that much more empowered. If you can't seem to do it, ask yourself, 'Is my team not capable, or am I too scared to let them prove themselves?' Often, it's the second one.”
2. Embrace failure
Choudhry says he always considers the “Steve Jobs rule” when attempting to empower his team. “He failed far more times than he succeeded; Jobs showed his ability, above all, to embrace failure, to learn from it, and to move on quickly. Being a leader means instilling this level of security and confidence in your team. I often tell my team, 'If you're not failing big, you're not trying hard enough.' If you find yourself failing big and often, assuming you are learning from each attempt, your successes can change the world.”
3. Expose them to senior executives
“Having planners present event proposals and lead planning meetings is a great investment in their confidence and growth. Also, it always helps for senior leadership to see the breadth of our bench and see the individual expertise the team brings to the organization,” says Univision's Rachel Gross.
4. Allow them to make their own decisions.
This is easy, free, and you can do it multiple times every day: Let folks make their own decisions. “When planners research, recommend, and own their decisions, they are empowered to dig deeper and make more thorough recommendations,” Gross says.
5. Make time for teambuilding
You may think you can't spare time away from the office, and maybe that's true at times throughout a given year. But when the season is right, take time for a group outing that will fuel the team's energy all year long. “One very special thing I do is treat my entire staff and their significant others to a semiannual trip for teambuilding. We have gone to places like Palm Springs, Santa Barbara, and Big Bear and are planning our next trips to Ojai and Joshua Tree,” says Chad Hudson of Chad Hudson Events, describing destinations within easy driving distance of his base in Los Angeles.
6. Don't micromanage
“Learn and focus on your team members' strong points, and give them room to prove themselves. No one can ever blow you away when they're being micromanaged,” says event stylist Sarah Granger-Twomey. “If you have a specific way of doing things, train people right the first time, do it with them the second time, and then let them show you what they've got.”
“Create a positive work environment by having clear communications, discussing roles and responsibilities, and setting goals and clear deadlines,” says PR Dept.'s Chet Mehta. “Be generous with the flow of information on clients, trends, topics in the media.”
8. Resolve conflicts—fast
We all know what happens over time when we ignore a small concern, maybe because we loathe conflict, or we feel we don't have the time to address it head-on. Do yourself and your team a favor by nipping little issues in the bud instead. “Talk things out in real time and don't let them fester,” says Mehta.
9. Give people a sense of ownership
People will only be motivated to work so hard if they feel like they're striving for your goals alone—not a shared goal. “If you set an environment where your team comes in every day feeling attached and invested with day-to-day goals, it helps create a stronger work ethic that is more rewarding. Everyone feels in line with the ultimate success,” Mehta says.
10. Say “thank you”
Last, but so very far from least, remember to say “thank you” as frequently as situations merit. It's free and takes no time—and it can deeply empower members of a team.
Thank you can come in the form of gifts as well as words, of course. Mehta has used yoga membership during the busy award season in Los Angeles or foot massages at the end of the day for everyone—including the intern—the Monday after an event-packed Golden Globes weekend.