This post is part of our 2017 Team Buzz Builder Guest Blogger series. Today we are pleased to introduce you to executive coach and leadership expert, Josh Ploch.

Employee Empowerment is one of the most popular buzz words of the last few years.

We see it thrown around for everything from morale, to the new hip thing, to the best way to deal with millennials. Employee empowerment is often cited as a key way to gain competitive advantage in increasingly competitive markets. Unfortunately, the name is starting to get watered-down, and we are losing the true meaning of what empowerment in the workplace is and how we can impact it.

Let’s break it down.

What is the meaning of employee empowerment?

Generally, empowerment refers to a few key areas:

  1. Employees are allowed to increase their scope of job duties by proactively engaging in work not spelled out in their job description or scope.
  2. Employees are given greater control or flexibility in the decision-making of their job.
  3. Employees are involved in key decision-making steps early in the process.
  4. Employees and managers work together on goal setting and expectations.

What is the relationship between job satisfaction and employee empowerment?

There are a few key areas that are often referenced as improving in environments where empowerment is a focus:

  1. Support and encouragement.
  2. Freedom to complete the job with some form of self-direction.
  3. Allowing employees to aid in defining the outcomes.

Where have we gone wrong?

The challenge that we have is that most leaders are starting the empowerment journey at the wrong point. We add employee empowerment as an afterthought, or a way to fix something that we perceive as a current issue in our workforce. We need to start the empowerment journey much earlier in our process, specifically during the hiring and onboarding process.

The key ingredient for success is your organization is finding, hiring, developing, and empowering the right people. Too many leaders are too focused on finding the right strategy – when they should be focused on finding the right people.

Once we have those people, we develop them by providing two things – Trust and Clarity.


We cast vision and let everyone know where we want to go. What is the vision? We say, “Here is the WHAT, here is the WHERE, here are the GUARDRAILS, and you figure out the HOW.” Many leaders struggle with the physical act of giving up control. There is no secret formula for this, although I have seen many tactics. The only way to really find out if you can trust someone is to actually trust them.

“Clarity without trust produces fear and inaction, Trust without clarity produces work without direction.” Craig Groeschel

If you explain the vision without following it up with trust, you produce an environment of fear. If you explain the vision, then jump in and do the task yourself, you create an environment of fear.


The other challenge leaders often face while taking this journey is to offer trust but not follow it up with clarity. This fosters an environment where people are filling their time with tasks and duties that aren’t moving the vision forward. They are “busy” and working, but without clarity they don’t know what to work on, or if their work is moving toward the goal that you as a leader wants them to move toward.

How do we improve?

Here are some action steps that can help you improve your team in this area:

  1. Identify where you need to improve – is it clarity or trust?
  2. Identify some specific steps you can take to improve this area. Is it being more clear with the vision? Is it having one on one meetings with your team to define their roles? Is it giving more flexibility or responsibility to help them stretch? All of these can be key steps on the road to empowerment.
  3. Pick one important goal. Identify a key area you want to impact change. Don’t be overly ambitious with change. Start with one key metric or goal.
  4. Delegate authority and decision making instead of tasks. Most leaders delegate tasks, great leaders delegate decisions.