The Essence of Empowerment
Empowerment is certainly not a new idea within the business arena. In
fact, its concept has been around since the 1960's when American car
manufactures suddenly realized that they were losing their butts to the
Japanese producers. An extensive and extremely well-funded investigation for
answers to the recurrent question, how do I get more out of my employees while
simultaneously lowering my costs, did produce some implementable and
constructive results. The topic I have chosen to investigate is the application
of employee empowerment and how to get the most out of this HR "buzzword."
Within my scope of discussions are topics which include effective implementation,
the role of the organization, and incentives to achieve and sustain actuation.
Employee empowerment, in its most basic definition, is effective
delegation. The new twist that upper management has been trying desperately to
achieve, is to involve the lowest level of employees in the decision-making
process while making them responsible for the results of their decisions. There
have been many documented examples of anxiety, mistrust and complacency in
employees when this wave of "new-and-improved, successful management
strategies" have been suddenly thrown upon them. Change of any kind will
usually inspire resistance, especially when you are talking about extracting
power from management to place in the hands of "subordinates."
There are obvious methods to achieving the results that the stakeholders
of an organization demand through empowerment. Increases in profitability,
productivity, creativity, and a shorter time-to-market are all feasible results
of empowerment. In fact, "empowerment is an extremely cost-effective means of
bringing about desired changes in performance and operational effectiveness."
It takes only a stout devotion of the entire organization, from the top levels
downward. That's all. There are, however, key factors to its success.
One of the most important key elements to take into account is the need
for extensive organizational preparation to achieve effective implementation.
By preparation, I mean an organizational-wide commitment to preparing both
management and its staff for the changes that are about to take place.
Education is one of the most effective tools in preparing for change.
Remember that psychological studies determined that individuals are inherently
resistant to change when they don't know the results and consequences of that
change. Education of all levels within an organization will help eradicate some
of the fear that's associated with change. It will also help define everyone's
role after the changes are established. Additionally, this becomes an
opportunity for upper management to align employees with corporate direction by...