Three simple ways you won’t have thought of to help someone empower themselves at work
OK, you might have thought of some of these, but they’re so simple, and so effective, that they often seem to get overlooked and are definitely worth repeating.
First things first, notice that it’s about helping someone to empower themselves, not doing it for them (which is actually disempowering). I reckon a lot of corporate programmes fall down right at this first hurdle, trying to spoon-feed empowerment to their staff instead of creating the conditions in which people want to take power for themselves. Perhaps that second option is just a bit too scary in some organisations?
1. Ask for their help
Nothing helps people realise what they’re capable of better than an opportunity to help somebody else. If you can do this in a way that is genuine, i.e. on something where you really do need their help, that’s good. If you can do it in a way that shows that asking for help is itself an act of strength, not weakness, even better.
2. Tell them what you see
This one is really so sweet and so powerful that it should come with a government health warning! People take themselves for granted. They forget about their good qualities and they focus on the things that they don’t like about themselves. You can change that in an instant with this way of giving people recognition.
Take a moment to remind someone about a resourceful quality of theirs that you have noticed them using. The format is really simple, but does take some guts to use. It goes like this: “I noticed that you were really [resourceful quality] during [recent situation]; that’s a great quality to have.” Here’s an example of the kind of thing I’ll say to the barista in my coffee shop, just for practice:
I noticed that you were really calm and helpful with that difficult customer just now. That’s a great quality to have.
3. Be kind in their presence
Everybody knows by now that acts of kindness are contagious; when you see someone being kind you tend to pay it forwards yourself. People are less aware that there’s an unconscious association of kindness with resourcefulness. It’s like part of your brain says to itself: “Oh, I’ve just been kind! I must have the strength of mind and physical resources that mean I can spare some for others”. Whenever you get the chance, role-model this for people and use the contagious power of kindness to remind people just how resourceful they really are.