Creating a team of self-sufficient employees is key to any successful workplace. A win-win situation for all, it ultimately saves managers time, as well as helps employees develop the necessary skills and proficiencies needed to fulfill their job requirements. They’ll also gain more satisfaction from their work by being self-sufficient.
“Career self-reliance is the ability to stay ahead of the curve, which enables you to move somewhat seamlessly to the next opportunity,” explains Betsy Collard, director of programs at the Career Action Center, a non-profit career center in Palo Alto, California, and author of “The High-Tech Career Book.” “It's the attitude of being self-employed, whether you're inside or outside an organization.”
Helping employees gain self-reliance isn’t something that happens overnight. However, little by little, day after day, you can help your team become more self-reliant rather than counting so much on your feedback and answers to questions. Here are some great ways to ensure self-reliance among your staff:
Give clear direction
It’s important that tasks are clearly communicated, especially if it’s a job the employee will do often. This includes giving comprehensible instructions for the task, an explanation of why they’re doing it and what the task’s outcome will bring. Make sure the employee understands what they need to do, and if not, be sure to answer all of their questions. The first few times, ask that the employee checks in with you to make sure the job is done correctly. The next time, they’ll be able to do it by themselves.
Use questions to help them figure things out
“With a little careful attention, most people can learn how to resolve their problems, or at least, can effectively get them teed up for a targeted decision from you. Use a consistent methodology to help them practice working things through on their own,” explains Liz Kislik, president of Liz Kislik Associates LLC. “Instead of leaping into action yourself — or coming to the rescue — be thoughtful and inquisitive. Ask questions that walk the employee through the situation, meanwhile maintaining your own composure and thoughtfulness.”
Some examples she offers are, “Why do you think that would be?”, “How do you think we should handle…” and “That’s a really good question. What are your thoughts about that?”
Provide helpful seminars
One of the simplest ways to help create self-reliance in employees is providing seminars that discuss just that. Participating in tutorials, discussion groups or even just watching an informative video will help your staff realize why self-reliance in the workplace is so important, as well as help them develop and enhance their skill set.
Avoid reprimanding for mistakes
While employees are in the learning stages of their job, they’re bound to make small mistakes — everyone does. It’s important that managers try not to scold their employees when errors are made, as this will only discourage and lower the employee’s self-esteem. Instead, use it as a way to help them learn from their mistakes, thus becoming on their way to being a self-reliant worker.
Be occasionally unavailable
While being a manager means being easily obtainable when an employee needs help, sometimes it’s more helpful when you’re not. It sounds counterproductive, but to make employees self-sufficient, you can’t always be there to answer their questions. When you’re MIA, employees are forced to figure things out on their own. And that’s not to say you should never be around as an open-door policy is a greatly admired commodity in the workplace.
However, sporadically being unavailable can promote employee independence by leaving them no choice but to handle a situation on their own. Most of the time, the employee is able to figure out the answer themselves, thus promoting independence and self-reliance.
Getting your employees to be more self-reliant will allow you to focus more on growing your business so get started today.