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At the Canisius College Women’s Business Center we give women the tools and support necessary to succeed in business. The same support could be given to employees through their leaders in order to empower them to make decisions. Below is an article I found by Marshall Goldsmith about empowering your employees to empower themselves. Don’t worry, he doesn’t want you to give up control of your company to the people around you! He wants you to create an empowering environment for your employees while the leader runs interference to ensure a safe working environment. Take a look.
As a manager or leader, do you let your people assume more responsibility when they are able? Do you know when that is, or do you keep telling yourself that they aren’t ready yet?
In my travels from organization to organization, I talk with thousands of people every year who want to be treated as “partners” rather than as employees. They want information to flow up as well as down. But, oftentimes, leaders do not want to give up control.
I knew a CEO who was the leader of one of the world’s largest global organizations. He received feedback that he was too stubborn and opinionated. He learned that he needed to do a better job of letting others to make decisions and to focus less on being right himself. He practiced this simple technique for one year: before speaking, he would take a breath and ask himself, “Is it worth it?” He learned that 50% of the time his comments may have been right on, but they weren’t worth it. He quickly began focusing more on empowering others and letting them take ownership and commitment for decisions, and less on his own need to add value.
Your employees understand their jobs. They know their tasks, roles, and functions within the organization, and it’s time for you to let them do what they need to do to get the job done. But there is a critical point that is often missed: It isn’t possible for a leader to “empower” someone to be accountable and make good decisions. People have to empower themselves. Your role is to encourage and support the decision-making environment, and to give employees the tools and knowledge they need to make and act upon their own decisions. By doing this, you help your employees reach an empowered state.
The process does take longer — employees will only believe they are empowered when they are left alone to accomplish results over a period of time — but it’s effective and worth the time. If a company has a history of shutting down or letting go of initiators, for instance, the leader can’t just tell employees, “You are empowered to make decisions.”
Part of building an empowering environment is dependent on the leader’s ability to run interference on behalf of the team. The leader needs to make sure people are safe doing their jobs. To make sure this happens, an ongoing discussion of the needs, opportunities, tasks, obstacles, projects, what is working and what is not working is absolutely critical to the development and maintenance of a “safe” working environment. You are likely to spend a lot of time in dialogue with other leaders, employees, team members, and peers.
Following are a few things leaders can do to build an environment that empowers people.
1. Give power to those who have demonstrated the capacity to handle the responsibility.
1. Create a favorable environment in which people are encouraged to grow their skills.
1. Don’t second-guess others’ decisions and ideas unless it’s absolutely necessary. This only undermines their confidence and keeps them from sharing future ideas with you.
1. Give people discretion and autonomy over their tasks and resources.
Successful leaders and managers today are willing to exercise their leadership in such a way that their people are empowered to make decisions, share information, and try new things. Most employees (future leaders) see the value in finding empowerment and are willing to take on the responsibilities that come with it. If future leaders have the wisdom to learn from the experience of present leaders, and if present leaders have the wisdom to build an environment that empowers people, both will share in the benefits.
Joshua Black explains that Entrepreneurs have to wear many hats when a business is just starting. Many things need to be delegated to others in order for the business to run smoothly and there are a few things that you must do yourself. If you can create a habit of performing these 5 things every day, some for just a few minutes, then you will see your business grow right alongside your dreams:
1. Plan for the future a few minutes each day. Assume that your product has stopped selling all of a sudden. What direction will you take your company next? What new income stream can you add? This is a time for day dreaming and recording notes in preparation for the future. You don’t necessarily have to take action on these items, but you need to think about them daily in order to bring out the golden ideas.
2. Work on your marketing in some aspect every day to get new customers. If your prospective customers don’t know about you they won’t buy from you. Work on getting your message out every day even if it is just for a few minutes.
3. Work on closing a sale every single day. whether you are doing this on-line, on the phone, through the mail, or face-to-face you need to be selling every day. Without the close of a sale there is no business. This is not something that you can delegate all the way. even if you have a sales force you need to be out there looking for deals.
4. Develop or strengthen your business network. You need to join or create a business network where you can help others and they can help you back. This is a great place to get free customers through referrals and an excellent mentoring opportunity using the mastermind principle.
5. Contact your current customers. Don’t ever forget about the people that have already purchased from you. These are your best customers. They already like what you have to sell and they don’t cost anything to acquire. Contact your current customers frequently, even if you are just saying hello. They need to know what you have to offer and they need to know you are still breathing. They won’t seek you out. You must go to them.
Seth Godin explains, that managers work to get their employees to do what they did yesterday, but a little faster and a little cheaper.
Managers want authority. Leaders take responsibility.
We need both. But we have to be careful not to confuse them. And it helps to remember that leaders are scarce and thus more valuable.
Do you think managers want authority?
This is old news in the techie blogosphere/twitterverse, but you may have noticed these little barcode-type images popping up. What are they? They are QR codes or Quick Response codes, and you’ll find them in advertisements and magazines, on tickets and boarding passes, and even on business cards and t-shirts.
So what do they do? Well, they allow immediate access to relevant information with the use of a smartphone.
Similar to traditional commercial barcodes, a QR code is a two-dimensional image made up of black and white pixels that, with the right app, can be scanned by a smartphone to reveal all sorts of digital content: a string of text, a website URL, an email, a phone number, a location on google maps, or even a youtube video.
This is a great way to expand your social media outreach.
Try posting codes on the front or back of your business card, on print advertisements, on brochures, signage, and other marketing materials, on product packaging, event materials and nametags, restaurant menus, ticket stubs, or receipts.
Link to your own website or online content, your Facebook page or LinkedIn, directions to your business, a free download, coupon codes and special offers… the possibilities are limitless!
How to generate a QR code?
It’s so easy! Simply use a generator site, like qrstuff.com or qrcode.kaywa.com. Save the image, and put it on whatever you’d like!
This is a great way to make yourself and your business more visible and accessible. And it’s free, so why not try it?
We also found these tips to be helpful: 5 QR Code Failures to Learn From (via @BuffaloNiagara)
This is a particularly good idea for the vendors (and even attendees) at our upcoming conference. Integrate a QR code into your table signage so that conference attendees can instantly access your website, connect with you on social media, or learn more about your products or services.
What is your experience with using QR codes? Any advice? Leave a comment below.
We’re very excited to have Dr. Teresa M. Amabile, professor of Business Administration at the Harvard Business School, come and speak at our 2011 Women’s Leadership Conference (just three weeks away now!).
Dr. Amabile poses an interesting question: “What makes people happy at work?”
And this is what she has to say (you can consider it a little preview):
What really makes people happy, motivated, productive, and creative at work? Our new research, based on analyzing nearly 12,000 daily diaries of team members working on collaborative creative projects, reveals some surprising answers. Inner work life – the continuous stream of emotions, perceptions and motivations at work – has a profound effect on a person’s performance. So what boosts people’s inner work lives? Contrary to what most managers believe, the single most important thing is simply making progress on meaningful work – even if that progress is a small step forward. This is the Progress Principle, and it holds clear implications for managers and knowledge workers: Sustained high performance and employee well-being depend less on elaborate incentive systems or performance-management processes than on techniques for facilitating the small wins that constitute daily work progress.
If you are in the Western New York area, be sure to check out the 2011 Women’s Leadership Conference to hear more of Dr. Amabile’s discussion on the “Progress Principle.”
It’s that time of year again…
We are four months into 2011 and close to the day that symbolizes how far into the following year that women will have had to work to match the money earned by men in 2010 (a mouthful, but it’s true). Believe it or not, there is still a substantial gender disparity in earnings: in 2009, women only earned 77 cents for every dollar that their male counterparts made for comparable work. The gaps are even greater in some career fields and among certain ethnicities.
Did you know that only 3% of CEOs in Fortune 500 companies are women? Or that, for the first time since the 1970s, the number of women in congress is declining? (source: AAUW) It’s not only about pay, but about broader disparities in the representation of women in the private and public sectors.
For further information on pay disparities particularly, pay-equity.org has made available the statistics and reports on wage gaps across industries, occupations, states, education and race over time.
Also, we invite you to watch the expert panel discussion we hosted last year on the gender pay gap, which focused on the causes and implications of the wage gap, as well as how to negotiate your own salary (here).
What you can do:
If you are an employer, this is the time to take a look at your pay practices. Do your pay scales favor men? Consider the questions on this pay equity self-audit.
Individuals can contact their representatives to make clear that the issue is important to their constituents. Ask them to support the legislation that aims to alleviate pay disparities.
Women are also encouraged to advocate on their own behalf. If you think you deserve to make more, then ask for it! Check out these tips for salary negotiation.
Finally, we ask that you observe Equal Pay Day with us on Tuesday, April 12th. Wear red to signify how women are still “in the red” when it comes to their pay and help to raise awareness about this pressing issue.
In light of Veterans Day (yesterday), we wanted to take a moment and thank veterans across the country for their service.
Because of the leadership skills and expertise they acquire during their service, many veterans go on to start and grow small businesses.
The Small Business Administration offers resources to support veteran-owned small businesses. Visit the Office of Veterans Business Development for more resources.
You might also want to check out a post we wrote back in June about the entrepreneurial resources and support available to the men and women who have served our country.
Happy Veteran’s Day!
There are lots of programs and opportunities out there for veterans looking for technical assistance and even capital for starting a small business.
A great resource is the Center for Veterans Enterprise (CVE) which maintains the VetBiz Registry, a member site that lists your company in a database of other veteran-owned businesses. Through VetBiz, listed companies are given notice of and special consideration for federal contracting opportunities, and are updated with information and news affecting Veteran-Owned and Service Disabled businesses.
Another resource is the SBA Office of Veterans Business Development, the mission of which is “to maximize the availability, applicability and usability of all administration small business programs for Veterans, Service-Disabled Veterans, Reserve Component Members, and their Dependents or Survivors.” The SBA oversees an outreach program that caters to both start up veteran enterprise and those in existing business. Services include business plan workshops, feasibility analysis, counseling, mentoring, and technical training in more specific areas.
Find out more here.
Use this tool on the SBA website to find a Veterans Business Development Officer near you.
The VA Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization is also developing a mentor program, not unlike our Business Coaching Program, which is aimed at assisting veteran-owned enterprises to become “viable and/or more competitive in the small business community.” See the details here.
Other organizations and federal offices advocate on behalf of veterans enterprise, such as the National Veteran Owned Business Association and the VA Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization. These organizations help to guide policy, support the veteran community, and promote veteran-owned businesses as preferred vendors.
Are you a veteran business owner?
What is your experience with the available resources?
As a follow-up to our previous post, we’d like to share the video of our expert panel discussion, held at Canisius College last week.
Find the the rest of our talk on our youtube channel, CanisiusWBC.
What did you take away from this discussion? Let us know in a comment below.
Did you know that, even in 2010, there is still a considerable pay gap for women in the United States? According to the Corporate Gender Gap 2010 Report, issued by the World Economic Forum in Geneva, Switzerland, women make, on average, only 77% of the average male income. This incredible margin exists despite the fact that women account for more than half of the workforce (52%) and over half of college graduates. With the majority of our “human talent” represented by women, how is it that we are still consistently underpaid and undervalued, compared to our male counterparts?
In an effort to acknowledge this continued disparity, next week, on April 20th, the Women’s Business Center will be observing Equal Pay Day. This day, which symbolizes how far into 2010 women must work to earn what men made in 2009, was established by the National Committee on Pay Equity (NCPE) in 1996 to spread public awareness of gender wage disparity. That day, we ask that you wear red to illustrate how women are still “in the red” when it comes to their pay.
We also invite you to an event hosted by the Canisius College Women’s Studies Department and the Women’s Business Center scheduled for that Tuesday: “Equal Pay Day: A Dicussion and Workshop on Closing the Gender Pay Gap.” A panel discussion will address the realities of the gender pay gap issue and the following workshop will present tatics for women and students to effectively negotiate their salary. This event is free and open to the public. Click here for more information.
*all statistics from The World Economic Forum. Click here to access the full reports.
What do you think about pay equity? Leave a comment.
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