What if we said that, more often than not, organizations are unable to capitalize on their huge talent pool because they focus on creating engagement rather than enablement? Our point is, enabled employees are sure to be engaged employees. These employees feel that they have a stake in the game and that what they do matters because the organization gives them every opportunity to perform. They will know that they are contributing to the organization’s success. So, the question really is, what can organizations do to succeed at employee enablement?
Let’s start by first understanding what is employee enablement? Employee enablement is the process of taking the employees beyond the engagement stage and empowering them with the right set of tools and circumstances to deliver quality results. It means providing the employees with the support to continue performing at a high-level while being aligned with the goals and vision of the company. Only enabled employees will be able to deliver exceptional service experiences. Most organizations today have a mobile and distributed workforce. This makes it all the more essential to focus on employee enablement to keep these valuable resources invested in the company. Now, on to the “How” question.
Creating a culture of transparency
Transparency is a critical contributor to employee enablement. When organizations focus on creating a culture of transparency they usually have employees who know why they are doing what they are doing. Transparency provides context. This context drives employees to deliver better results by helping them become more focused as it gives them a clear view of the big picture.
Things like helping employees understand the reason behind initiatives, helping them understand the organizational goals, sharing performance data to keep them objective oriented, having clear, proactive, and effective feedback mechanisms that allow timely self-correction are all things that help in creating this culture of transparency within an organization.
Building the listening culture
Companies working towards effective employee enablement have to necessarily build the ‘listening culture’ within the organization. A large part of employee enablement involves identifying what employees need in order to grow and do their jobs better. This means having your ear to the ground, taking on board all the issues that have been overtly and subtly voiced and, then, taking the right set of actions to show that these have been addressed.
Demonstrating what you’ve done in response to the employee’s needs, having the right processes or forums in place for employees to voice their needs and opinions, and providing a platform for the employees to showcase their work is important to build the listening culture in an organization. This will foster engagement, strengthen links between employees, and make them feel empowered and trusted.
Provide avenues for immediate learning
Today’s fast-paced work environment demands that employees be enabled not only while they are within the four walls of the organization but everywhere their work happens.
We are in the age of the digital native, of people who are technologically proficient and who demand greater flexibility at work. Add the distributed and mobile workforce to that mix and you realize that you are working with a population that not just demands email access to work but also needs access to business information from their smartphones. Organizations thus need to look at their mobility strategies and provide their employees access to information when they need it and where they need it. Whether it is critical business information or learning and development opportunities, if organizations want to drive employee enablement, they have to enable immediate learning. And this means leveraging the power of mobility.
Targeted learning and development initiatives
Learning and development initiatives are a focus area for almost all forward-thinking organizations. However, when you want to cultivate a breed of enabled employees, you need to ensure that these initiatives are targeted and hyper-personalized. The focus, thus, must shift to enabling continuous learning and curating adaptive and engaging learning experiences that are in synch with the needs of the employees. These must, then, be delivered according to the individual’s learning styles.
Faster and more streamlined knowledge dissemination, disbursing training material in small, bite-sized pieces to facilitate better consumption and knowledge retention, using the right parameters to measure training success, and proactively providing help when needed are a few things to look at during the enablement journey.
Analyzing the measure of enablement
Organizations today want employees who can hit the ground running. For this, they need effective learning and development initiatives. They must ensure information access to employees irrespective of their location. The knowledge economy is driven by collaboration. Today it is imperative to have proactive learning processes in place to remove performance barriers. This ensures that your organization is putting people in a better position to succeed and giving them an environment where they ‘can do’ what they ‘want to’ do. To achieve this, organizations need to start asking the right questions and conducting the right diagnostics with the context in mind. And these activities typically go beyond the subject of motivation and take into consideration the overall performance parameters and the factors that influence them.
Creating an enabling environment means ensuring that employees have the right skills to contribute to their job roles. Training and learning and development initiatives thus, cannot be looked at as a one-time event, that employees attend during their onboarding or while changing roles. In the new world of employee enablement, training has to be an ongoing process since organizational goals and objectives keep evolving rapidly. Ensuring that the employees’ skills stay current and in tune with changing work demands, helping employees gain clarity on the battles they must win, and tying recognition programs to broader organizational objectives helps in creating a cadre of enabled employees who are primed to succeed.
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