Empowering Employees: 2 Suggestions to Improve the Employee Experience

Voice of the Employee | Best Practices | Employee Experience

Reading time: 4 minutes

The employee experience has never been more important and most elusive at the same time.

As more work goes remote, it certainly has many benefits, but it results in a different employee experience than most are used to.

One way to improve the employee experience, remote or in person, is through empowerment.

Woman presenting a new idea to colleagues

When employees feel empowered, their experience improves, and they provide more discretionary effort.

How can you better empower your people? I have two suggestions.


First, remove barriers to success

Harvard professors Teresa M. Amabile and Steven J. Kramer coined the term "The Progress Principle" to describe how the ability to make meaningful progress at work impacts the employee experience.

Barriers impede this progress.

At PeopleMetrics, we have done thousands of interviews with employees that aim to identify these barriers.

Leaders don’t often see them.

Barriers often come in the form of policies that are put in place to lower costs, improve productivity, or achieve other good intentions.

When employees are prevented from making consistent progress in their work, they disengage.

Leaders who remove the daily barriers that prevent employees from making “small wins” everyday will see an increase in motivation and innovation.


Second, allow for trial and error … and encourage mistakes!

Thomas Edison famously stated, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

In spite of this famous inventor’s words, however, most of us – employees, managers, and leaders alike – are uncomfortable with the idea of finding 10,000 ways that will not work.

HBR blogger Amy C. Edmondson makes the point that the desire to avoid mistakes often leads to assigning blame and simplistic answers to why the failure happened.

Leaders quickly move on and miss an opportunity to learn more about the mistake.

Unfortunately in doing this, they create a culture increasingly unlikely to take a chance on a new idea.

If you want to empower your employees to do something new, exciting, or innovating, it may be time to change how your organization talks about and responds to failure.

So, what are the barriers that your people are currently facing and how can you remove them?

And how can you encourage people to take more risks and yes, fail more?

Let's talk employee experience.

Contact PeopleMetrics:

About the Author

Sean McDade, PhD is the author of Listen or Die: 40 Lessons That Turn Customer Feedback Into Gold. He founded PeopleMetrics in 2001 and is the architect of the company’s customer experience management (CEM) software platform. As CEO, he guides the company’s vision and strategy. Sean has over 20 years of experience helping companies measure and improve the customer experience. Earlier in his career, he spent five years at the Gallup Organization, where he was the practice leader of their consulting division. His company offers CEM software with advanced machine learning solutions and hands-on analytical support to help companies make sense of their CX data. Sean holds a Ph.D. in Business Administration with a specialization in marketing science from Temple University in Philadelphia. He has published eight articles in peer-reviewed scholarly journals and has taught over 25 marketing classes. Sean was named a 40 under 40 award recipient of the Philadelphia region. He is an active Angel Investor, including investments in Tender Greens, CloudMine and Sidecar.


Topic: Employee Experience

Posted on 08-18-2020