5 Ways to Help Employees Become More Self-Sufficient

People sitting around conference table working together.

Employees need a few things to do great work.

First, they need a kick in the butt.

Ha! 

I’m just playing around.

They need support. There are five key areas of support. So, where do you start?

It starts with setting expectations upfront.

I was recently working with a client to improve his processes. He wanted his employees to be more self-sufficient.

As we dug into his SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures), we began to see patterns emerge. He was the bottleneck for his employees’ productivity. They needed to come to him for approvals, feedback, and reassurance. This is a recipe for time suck.

Empowering employees to become more self-sufficient not only boosts their confidence and skills but also enhances the overall productivity and efficiency of a small business. 

Here are five strategies a small business owner can employ to help make her employees more self-sufficient:

1. Set Clear Expectations and Goals

Communicate the expectations, goals, and objectives of their roles. When employees understand what is expected of them and what success looks like, they are more likely to take initiative and work independently towards achieving those goals. 

Establishing SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound) goals can guide employees in understanding their responsibilities and the standards to which they are held.

2. Foster a Culture of Trust and Empowerment

Create an environment where employees feel trusted and empowered to make decisions. This involves delegating authority and not micromanaging every aspect of their work. 

When employees feel their judgment is trusted and they are given the autonomy to make decisions, they are more likely to take ownership of their roles and work independently.

3. Encourage Problem-Solving and Critical Thinking

Encourage employees to come up with solutions to problems on their own before seeking help. Ask them to present potential solutions when they encounter a problem. This approach encourages critical thinking and problem-solving skills, making them more self-reliant and reducing their dependency on management for every issue that arises.

4. Facilitates Better Resource Management

Efficient processes make optimal use of resources, including time, materials, and human talent. Process improvement helps in identifying the most effective way to allocate and utilize resources, ensuring that employees have what they need to work independently. This optimal resource management helps in eliminating delays and increasing the pace at which work can be completed, thereby enhancing overall employee efficiency. 

The important part is to not expect an employee to be perfect, but to continually find small improvements to improve their results.

5. Provide Regular Feedback and Support

Regular feedback helps employees understand what they are doing well and where they can improve. Constructive feedback, coupled with support and encouragement, can motivate employees to work more independently. 

It’s also important to be accessible and approachable when they genuinely need guidance and when they need a kick in the butt. They trust that you won’t kick them too hard. 😉

You have to be approachable, but also let them know that they can’t come to you for every little thing. They need to work toward the standards that you’ve set, try their best, sometimes fail, and learn from their mistakes.

I love Toyota’s Kata Method of continuous improvement. It’s not about big changes. It’s about making small improvements every single day. Implementing these strategies requires patience and commitment but can lead to a more motivated, empowered, and self-sufficient workforce that can drive the business forward with less direct oversight.

If you are looking to get started on improving, check out the Quickstart Guide to SOPs that don’t suck. It helps you understand the basics of documenting your processes so you can start to delegate work and eventually see patterns around how you can improve your results.

Photo by Jason Goodman on Unsplash

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