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...