Employee Empowerment – Meaning and Its Effectiveness

In such a competitive environment, the organizations have to continuously provide quality products, better services and need to bring innovation to stay in the business and generate profits. To conduct such activities, efficient and empowered employees are essential.

In the past, the authority was not delegated to the employees and it centered on the managers who were responsible for making all the decisions in the interest of the organizations. This had limited the creativity to show up since the employees were not able to express or share their ideas. Empowerment in the recent years has been considered as the most important factor that contributes to the success of the organization. The creative energy and potentials of employees benefits the shareholders, suppliers and customers as well.

Empowerment means delegation of decision making authority when there is a need to take action which is important for both the managers and employees. Following are the main reasons for practicing empowerment in the organization:

  • It provides fast solutions to business problems
  • It provides growth opportunities for employees
  • It helps in lowering organizational cost

Employees benefit from empowerment because they have more responsibility in their jobs. Employee empowerment increases the level of employee involvement and therefore creates a deeper sense of satisfaction and higher levels of motivation. The style of management is changing as the managers are now being considered as the coach, advisors or facilitators. The decision making has been shifted down to the lowest level of the organization.

Empowerment isn’t just a matter of delegating job authority to the job-holders. It means that everyone can take action to enhance his or her work, either in personal or organizational terms. Instead of the traditional bureaucracy, with its emphasis on control, standardization and obedience. Empowerment can only thrive in the liberated surround of innovation, flexibility, commitment, zero defects and continuous improvement.

Effectiveness of Employee Empowerment

Employee Empowerment can only be effective when management clearly defines the achievable goals and accountability standards. The management should provide employees with the resources such as time, money, training and relevant and factual information which is supported by the upper and lower management.

The benefits of empowerment can be substantial for the organization but it doesn’t come without costs. If this approach is not properly implemented, it can cause many problems such as bad decisions taken by the employees who are not well-trained, conflict arising between team members reducing the team innovativeness and performance of the employees and high training costs to successfully operate in the empowered environment.

There are also numerous benefits that are associated with empowerment such as enhanced creativity resulting in increased performance, making cross functional teams of diverse work group for sharing and developing innovative ideas and increased customer service quality by letting them solving the customer problems on their own without waiting for the managerial approval.

Hence we can assume that empowerment is a skill and can be learned. Effective management teams must have a firm grasp on the latest business techniques as well as an understanding of the importance of human potential and high self-esteem. Empowerment is a total commitment to doing business in a productive and positive manner.

The famous researcher John R. Drew proposed Seven Steps to Empowerment. According to him empowerment can be achieved by creating champions, involving people in planning the change, creating team leaders, educating the workforce, changing the support system, practicing consensus decision making and involving people in strategic and tactical planning.

A lot of research has been conducted on empowerment in the last decade to fully understand its impact on the performance of employees and how it effects the organization as a whole. An organization must understand its compatibility with the organization system since its effect varies from organization to organization. The approach is dependent on the organizational structure, its system, its culture, skilled workforce and the attitude of top management toward the “change”.

Before the organizations move to the empowerment approach, they must critically analyze what empowerment basically is and how it’s different from the traditional approach. Empowerment encourages information sharing with front-line workers, rewards based on organizational performance, employee training, and employee involvement in management decision making.

Most of the researches indicate that the empowerment must be nurtured and supported by the other factors which trigger its effect and produces positive results for the organization such as Autonomy, creativity, level of communication between managers and employees, competency and high self-esteem.

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