Many managers are reluctant to accept and apply employee empowerment as they feel they have to “let go” of their power. Empowerment is not about “letting go power”, it’s about sharing power with the subordinates. However, employee empowerment will change processes and their impacts in decision making; problem solving etc. Successful empowerment involves trust, respect and openness.
Employee empowerment is the process of giving power, authority, responsibility, resources, freedom to take decisions and solve work related problem to the employees. It is not delegation based but trust based. With empowerment employees become self-directed and self-controlled and use their full potential to work because of the confidence and belief that they are influential contributors to the organization.
Empowerment takes place when higher management transfers means, power, authority, responsibility and accountability to lower employees. It has been observed that imparting power to employees enhances their feeling of self-efficiency and a sense of ‘ownership and control’ over the work. Empowerment offers a way of treating people with respect and dignity. It is a must for organizations that want to be successful in the competitive world. Ultimately, employee empowerment is reflected in job satisfaction, enhanced morale and improved performance which are important for long-run smooth operation and success of organization.
Few examples of employee empowerment are as below:
- Top management supporting efficient employees and trusting them with authorities and autonomy at work, supporting the culture of empowerment.
- Customer’s need focused empowerment to attain the objectives of the organization.
- Eliminating the “let me ask my boss” barrier for every small work by handing over a level of decision making power to front-line employees.
- Training employees in the area of customer service, problem solving, and negotiation and conflict resolution skills before they actually face them.
- Giving employees access to information and data that can be used in their decision making.
- Trusting and delegating certain decision making power to capable employees that manager has confidence upon.
Empowerment is based on the idea that giving employees skills, resources, authority, opportunity, motivation, as well holding them responsible and accountable for outcomes of their actions, will contribute to their competence and satisfaction. When employees feel empowered at work, it is associated with stronger job satisfaction, job performance, commitment towards organization and trust towards the empowering leader.
To organization also employee empowerment is equally beneficial for the following reasons:
- Organization can gather valuable ideas, informations, experiences, zeal and energies which are valuable inputs.
- When employees feel empowered, they tend to be more productive which ultimately leads to increased productivity of organization.
- Organization get a more engaged workforce working towards customer satisfaction and improved co-worker relations and care for the business interest.
- When manager listens to the empowered team, they are in unity and this helps grasp the opportunities and combat the weaknesses and threats posed to the organizations.
- Empowered employees will work to reduce wastages-time, energies and resources and also give great ideas for new products and services which will ultimately lead to increased revenue.
Yes certainly, empowering wrong employees can be very dangerous leading to :
- Abuse of power
- Conflicts between employees and manager, especially in organizations where managers are rigid and do not accept culture of employee empowerment as right.
- Increased expenses for organization, even though training is beneficial, it costs money and time.
- Risks of security and confidentiality and so on.