Never Settle: How Great Employee Empowerment Changed My Life

Let me tell you, 2009 was quite the year. 

My wife and I got married.

We bought a house.

We both started new jobs. 

And to round out the year, we had a kid. 

It was a year of joy and change and growth, but all of this happened in the middle of the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. Good times! Kidding, it was anything but easy. 

In hindsight…

When I look back, I love lots of the decisions I made in that season, but I do regret one choice in particular. I don’t like how I balanced work and life. I felt like I had to choose between doing a great job providing for my family and doing a great job being with my family, and I chose the first. I missed out on lots of memories with my people because of work. Now I know that making money never replaces lost time, but when there’s little to no support or employee empowerment in the workplace, it feels like there’s no choice but to choose work.

One thing you should know about me ten years ago is that career-wise, I didn’t have very much drive or direction. Not because of laziness or apathy but because I didn’t have the autonomy to make any decisions at work that would directly impact my career or the company. The result? I felt like a number instead of a valued employee. There was a complete lack of empowerment in the workplace in many of my past roles. But I thought that’s just how work worked. You show up, you do what you’re asked to do, and you go home. I never understood the importance of employee empowerment until I worked somewhere that valued it. And more realistically, valued me. Not Willie the employee, but Willie the human being.

I’d define the word “empower” in a sentence as equipping someone with the tools and skills they need to succeed. For me, success looked like killing the game at work and killing the game as a husband, father, friend, son, etc. Believe it or not, you can have both.

A big decision

As my family grew (yeah, we had another kid??) maximizing time with my family became more and more important. So after years of working grueling hours, I finally made a decision—I would only work for companies that value their employee’s time and voice. Ones that saw the benefits of employee empowerment and balance. Ones that sought to empower employment opportunities and career paths for people with families and busy lives outside of work.

Some of the employee empowerment examples that were (and still are) important to me as I set out to find this new job were the ability to set my own agenda and design my career path. I wanted to own my performance and work for an employer that would empower me with the necessary tools and skills to build a life I love. At Lessonly, I feel empowerment in management form constantly because I know my manager and my teammates trust me to do my job well. Empowerment theory would say that I now have self-determination, which comes from being extrinsically empowered and then in response, highly motivated.

As I look back on the past ten years, necessary sacrifices were made for sure. But here’s what I can tell you—life is a whole lot more enjoyable with the types of employee empowerment I’m experiencing at Lessonly. It makes me think that companies should spend less time micromanaging and overworking their employees and more time encouraging and enabling them to live lives full of hard work and true rest. “Make time for life” is one of our values, and I feel empowered to actually do this. And I mean, come on—look at that squad! It’s worth it to be present with them.

Empower your employees with Lessonly

Lessonly is powerfully simple training software that helps teams learn, practice, and perform like never before. We help teams like yours empower employees to own their career paths and professional development. The result? Happy, engaged, and hard-working people. You want in? Take a tour of Lessonly or a demo today.

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