An organization can do nothing without productive employees. A new method of management is employee empowerment. Engaging the people responsible for the work processes-the the people who know the processes best is where quality starts.
Some believe that employees work only to be monetarily compensated. If they are unable to be an integral part of the organization, this may be true. Allowing employees to have autonomy and feedback within the organization is what makes the empowerment process successful.
Employee empowerment does not mean that management is no longer responsible for the performance or for leading the organization. Rather, in an employee empowered organization, management responsibility becomes to create and foster an environment in which it is apparent that employee input is desired and cultivated. The management must trust and communicate with employees.
One of the strongest indicators of employee empowerment is communication. What is good communication? Consider what management feels is adequate, then multiply by a factor of ten. Only a small number of employees will accept the invitation to become more involved in the beginning. It will take time for others to come around. Some will never respond. Management must work to convince the largest number possible.
A key phrase in employee empowerment is participative management. Participation and satisfaction are strongly linked to motivation and performance. Small groups of employees who work on solving specific problems (employee involvement teams) are one approach to participative management. These types of teams have proved effective in many areas, including resolving problems related to quality and productivity and improved employee morale and job satisfaction.
Empowerment requires management to delegate more responsibility directly to employees. It recognizes the potential of employees to identify problems and to devise actions to solve those problems. Workers must be involved in the decisions which affect them. Empowered employees should know what to do in an empowered business, not expect to be told.
The primary role of management in an empowered organization is to support and encourage employees. However, many supervisors resist employee empowerment. They fear it will lead to their losing authority and, ultimately, their jobs. Most resistance to empowerment comes from middle management. Managers argue that not all employees are qualified to make decisions, as well as unable to get the big picture of the organization.
There are several approaches to solving the problems of management resistance to empowerment. One is to provide managers and supervisors with training to cope with organizational change. This training should enable them to see that their responsibilities are not being eliminated-merely changing. Another method to reduce resistance is to allow managers the opportunity of setting, measuring, and evaluating performance with their team members.
One of the most important concepts in empowerment is to delegate responsibility to the lowest levels of the organization. The responsibility for a discrete part of the work process should be assigned to individuals or work-designed teams. The success of a program is based on its ownership by employees and their power to make changes. Management must value employee suggestions and input and make decisions and changes accordingly.
Employees are the most important asset in a business. Empowered employees experience satisfaction in their accomplishments. They have a sense of responsibility and the knowledge that they are important to the organization, as well as a sense of being responsible for decisions that affect themselves and other employees. They have a sense of ownership, which is how empowered employees should feel.