Trust Me: The Strategic Imperative for Employee Empowerment


In the modern business world, ‘engagement’ has been the buzzword du jour, frequently viewed as a barometer of health and employee satisfaction in any organization. Has this obsession with engagement worked? Absolutely not.

Despite the relentless efforts of organizations worldwide, progress has been frustratingly slow. According to Gallup, the percentage of engaged employees has been stagnant, hovering around 36% globally for the past decade. This lack of progress signals a need for a better, more novel approach.


It’s becoming increasingly clear that ’empowerment’ is the metric we should be focusing on. Empowerment goes beyond the surface-level commitment measured by engagement; it delves deeper into the very heart of an organization, reflecting not just how satisfied employees are, but how much autonomy, trust, and decision-making authority they have. It’s not just about how much employees ‘like’ their jobs, but how much control they have over their work and their contribution to the organization’s success.

In this new era of work, it’s time to shift our focus from engagement to empowerment, a true indicator of corporate health and a catalyst for innovation and growth. A culture of empowerment not only fosters innovation and creativity but also helps in attracting and retaining top talent.

Among the various elements that constitute an empowerment-centric culture, trust stands out as paramount. Fostering a culture where employees are empowered to make decisions is crucial; it entails placing trust in your employees’ ability to make sound decisions. This trust transcends merely being a morale booster; it is a strategic necessity for businesses aiming to maintain a competitive edge.

“To win in the marketplace, you must first win in the workplace.” – Doug Conant, former CEO of Campbell Soup

Trust is Critical

“Trust is the glue of life. It’s the most essential ingredient in effective communication. It’s the foundational principle that holds all relationships.” – Stephen Covey


Trust is the foundation of any relationship, and it is no different in the employer-employee relationship. When employees feel trusted, they are more likely to take ownership of their work, take risks, and come up with innovative solutions. Conversely, when employees feel that their judgment is always second-guessed, they are less likely to take the initiative or invest their best efforts.

Trusting employees to make good decisions is not about relinquishing control or lowering standards. It is about leveraging the skills, experience, and judgment that employees bring to the table and giving them the autonomy to use those assets to the fullest. It is about creating an environment where employees can thrive and do their best. A Gallup study found that companies with high levels of trust report 50% higher productivity and 50% lower turnover. These statistics underscore the importance of trust in the workplace.

Building Business Acumen and Decision-Making Skills

Trust must be more than “blind faith”. It must be accompanied by the right skills and knowledge. Employees need to have a good understanding of the business, its goals, and its challenges to make informed decisions. Here are some steps to build business acumen and decision-making skills in teams:

Provide Access to Information

Employees need to have access to relevant information to make informed decisions. Make sure that they have access to all the necessary data, metrics, and strategic plans. They should also understand how these metrics impact the business. Encourage open communication and sharing of information across teams.

Encourage a Learning Culture

“An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.” – Benjamin Franklin

Foster a culture of continuous learning. Provide opportunities for employees to develop their skills and knowledge. This could be through formal training programs, online courses, workshops, or mentorship programs. More than just learning more about their current roles, there should be “stretch learning” opportunities that prepare employees for the next step in their career progression.

Involve Employees in Decision-Making

Give employees the opportunity to participate in decision-making processes. Having them shadow other decision-makers can ensure they see this process in action and gain muscle memory on how to make clear, data-driven decisions. Encourage them to share their opinions and ideas. Involve them in strategic planning and problem-solving.

Provide Feedback

Provide regular feedback on their decisions and their impact on the business. Celebrate successes and discuss areas for improvement. Help them understand the consequences of their decisions and how they contribute to the overall success of the business.

Encourage a Growth Mindset

Encourage employees to view challenges as opportunities for growth. Foster a mindset of continuous improvement and encourage employees to learn from their mistakes.

“In a growth mindset, challenges are exciting rather than threatening. So rather than thinking, oh, I’m going to reveal my weaknesses, you say, wow, here’s a chance to grow.” – Carol S. Dweck

The Way Forward

The way forward

Empowering employees is not a one-time effort; it is an ongoing process that requires commitment from all levels of the organization. It starts with trust, but it also requires investing in the development of your employees and creating an environment where they can thrive.

Remember, empowered employees are engaged employees, and engaged employees are more productive, more creative, and more likely to stay with your organization. Trusting your employees to make good decisions is not just good for them; it is good for your business.

A company that trusts its employees and invests in their development is a company that is poised for success, but it may not happen overnight. If you need help creating a culture of empowerment in your organization, Mercury Performance Group, a company helping organizations of 500 or more employees solve their HR problems, empower their employees, and elevate their performance can help you to embrace employee empowerment and help your business soar to new heights. Contact us today.

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