Employee empowerment is a hot topic in Singapore, especially given the country’s efforts to move towards an innovation-based economy. It is now taken as a given that empowered and upskilled employees are necessary for businesses that want to be relevant, especially in hypercompetitive global marketplaces.

If you’re interested in fostering a work culture that brings out the best in your employees, here are a few things you can do:

1. Give Them What They Need to Improve

Whether it’s done through mandatory internal training sessions or optional courses, professional skills upgrading always incurs time and financial costs. If you’re truly interested in developing your team, you will have to be willing to absorb some of the expenses of upskilling. This can be done by giving employees special considerations such as paid leaves for participating in upskilling initiatives and programmes.

While you don’t have to pay for your employee’s master’s degree, at the very least, you should allow a realistic amount of time for internally mandated training sessions. Stacking skills improvement tasks over other professional responsibilities will not only disincentivise skills training but it will also eat into the time that employees need to recharge and become productive.

Additionally, employees that have to spend their own retargets on skills improvements that you demand are unlikely to remain loyal to you, raising your turnover and increasing your new employee development costs.

2. Delegate Key Responsibilities

Delegation is all too often done in a shortsighted way. While it’s useful in the short term to delegate tedious, low-value tasks, it’s also a good way to cause vital skills in your organisation to atrophy. However, delegating with intent makes it possible to not only distribute drudge work but also to develop your employees’ capabilities. After all, no task is too small for those who are willing to grow from the ground up.

3. Provide Constructive and Actionable Feedback

Project debriefing and quarterly assessment sessions are often overlooked or serve as a mere formality in many organisations. However, they are an excellent opportunity to help employees become better at what they do.

When these opportunities do come up, it’s important to give feedback that is specific and actionable. Simply telling someone they did a good job or pointing out a perceived attitude flaw does not help anyone. For feedback to be useful, directions also need to be given about what the employee should or should not do in the future.

Feedback also has to be contextualised. Employees that are made to focus on their deliverables and nothing else may eventually become limited in their growth potential. Given this, the context impact of their work on other stakeholders in the organisation should also be noted, as it may allow them a basis for a better understanding of their role and potential for growth.

4. Set Clear Expectations

Having clear expectations addresses the confusion about what things are appropriate to do in different professional contexts. For example, without any defined boundaries, your employees may not necessarily understand that they are free to take the initiative in certain situations. If employees do not take the initiative because of fear or ignorance, their avenues for professional development may narrow, and the organisation may lose out in the long term.

Expectations are also crucial for ensuring that their development is structured and beneficial for the organisation’s mission and vision. Without clear-cut expectations, not only will employees lack a reason to improve, but they may develop in ways that are not necessarily beneficial for the business and its stakeholders.

5. Build a Culture of Trust

Trust not only improves productivity, communication and teamwork, but it also helps employee commitment. In other words, trust is necessary for empowering employees to become better at what they do. When this trust is taken away, employees will understand that you do not have their best interests in mind. A lack of trust may completely demotivate employees from expanding their skill sets or using these for your organisation’s benefit.

There is no one-size-fits-all formula for building trust. However, work cultures with high levels of trust have several things in common. These cultures offer autonomy and respect their employees. They also tend to be upfront and shun the malicious use of language to shift blame or responsibility.

6. Support Any Opportunities for Growth

You and your organisation are ultimately going to reap the benefits of having well-developed employees in leadership and technical roles. Being supportive of attempts by employees to better themselves is a small but necessary action to not only empower them but also earn their trust and loyalty.

7. Don’t Let Mistakes Blind You

It’s unrealistic to expect employees to be perfect at everything they do, especially when you’re trying to push them beyond their current limits. Meaningful skills upgrading is almost certainly going to be difficult and mistakes are certain to be made. Given this, it’s important to afford employees who are trying to better themselves reasonable latitude for making necessary mistakes.

Bring Out the Best in Your Team

Empowered, well-developed employees are an important ingredient in building a truly competitive and innovative organisation. Thankfully, there are lots of retargets and initiatives in Singapore that may help you create your dream team. Whether you’re looking to develop employees through skills upgrading programs or improve the team dynamics at your organisation by hiring the right mix of people, Singapore-based enterprises are spoiled for options.