empowerment in business

Introduction:Today’s business environment is characterized by rapid transformation, knowledge explosion, technological progressions and intense competition. Hence, the success of an organization depends on its ability to respond and adapt to these environmental changes. Therefore, the managers today are demanding more active organizational involvements from their employees than they did in past. They expect their employees to demonstrate responsiveness, involvement, and pro activity in order to deliver customer satisfaction, which is essential for high levels of business performance.

Empowerment:

Employees are the greatest commodities and often the face of a company. Giving them the ability to make decisions about how they work, how they interact with customers, as well as allowing input into bigger company decisions develops loyalty, productivity, and performance. Having an employee that is well trained and able to make appropriate decisions is the best advertising avenue an organization has.

Oxford Dictionary defines Empowerment as a management practice of sharing rewards, information and most importantly power with employees in order to make them able to take initiative and make decisions to solve problems and improve performance and services. Empowerment is based on the idea that giving employees the resources, authority, opportunity, motivation as well holding them responsible and accountable for all the possible outcomes of their actions, will contribute to their competence, efficiency, and satisfaction.

Empowerment is that the process

of enhancing the capability of people or teams to create selections and to rework those selections into desired actions and outcomes. Central to the current method square measure actions that each build individual and collective assets, and improve the efficiency and fairness of the organizational and institutional context which govern the use of these assets. (World Bank’s 2002 Empowerment Source Book).

However, perceptions of being authorized vary across time, culture and domains of a person’s life: in India, a low caste woman currently feels empowered when she is given a fair hearing in an exceedingly public meeting, which is comprised of men and women from different social and economic groups; in Brazil, in Porto Allegre, citizens – both men and women — feel authorized if they’re ready to interact in choices on budget allocations; in the African nation, citizens and civil society groups report feeling empowered by consultations undertaken during the preparation of the impoverishment reduction support program; within the USA, immigrant workers feel empowered through unionization which has allowed them to negotiate working conditions with employers; and in the UK, a battered woman feels authorized once she is free of the threat of violence and becomes ready to build choices concerning her own life. (World Bank’s 2002 Empowerment Source Book).

Empowering the employees has become a popular management strategy in today’s management reforms and is being practiced in both public and private organizations. The emerging concept of empowerment has become a topic of interest among organizational theory researchers and practitioners. The potential benefits of employee empowerment include stronger task commitment, higher levels of initiative in carrying out role responsibilities, more innovation and learning, higher job satisfaction and stronger organizational commitment. For this reason, from the past few years, many organizations have adopted some kind of empowerment initiative in their workforce.
As empowered employees gain more discretion over how their jobs are performed, their level of self-efficacy increases because they decide the best way to perform a given task. Thus, empowered employees tend to be more adaptive because of the increased flexibility that accompanies empowerment, enabling organizations to be more responsive.

Empowerment is all about getting the best from the employees by utilizing them to their full potential. It is a process whereby an organization allows individuals to develop to utilize their competence to distribute and influence the organization’s systems and working methods to achieve and sustain continuous improvement. Its everyday use is exemplified in such phrase as:

  • Pushing authority for decisions as far down the organization as possible
  • Letting the people closest to a problem solve the problem
  • Giving people a job and staying out of their way so that they can do it
  • Increasing the sense of ownership that people have for their work and their organization
  • Letting teams manage themselves
  • Trusting people to do the right thing

But empowerment is something that goes beyond plain delegation. For example, if we give a 15 years old child to buy a jacket, this would be delegation. But if we give the same child a clothing allowance and allow him to spend the way he wants to, this is empowerment.

Therefore, there is a great need to alter the perceptions and attitudes of today’s managers. Managers should be trained to view the employees as “human asset” rather than a labor force and try to mold the workplace into a restriction free workplace allowing the employees to make decisions and take initiatives.
Empowerment is not something “done” to people. Managers cannot build folks act in associate degree management manner. Empowerment is an internal decision by an individual to act freely within the boundaries of the organization with the intent of achieving individual and organizational goals by collaborating with his associates.

Organizations practicing Employee Empowerment:

Many renowned organizations acknowledged the significance of employee empowerment and practice it to achieve a higher level of productivity and a competent workforce. A few of these organizations are:
Google: Google’s market capitalization reached a record high $260 billion because it has been keeping the pipeline of innovation going by tapping its employees and letting ideas percolate up, (Bock said). Google regularly survey employees about their managers and then use that information to publicly recognize the best managers and enlist them as teachers and role models for the next year. The company has a survey called ‘Googlegeist,’ which solicits feedback on hundreds of issues and then enlists volunteer employee teams across the entire company to solve the biggest problems.
General Electronics: It states that: “GE is a “We Company,” not a “Me Company.” It’s that belief that empowers employees to be successful.

Toyota: Toyota core competence lies in empowering its employees. It believes that every employee should take ownership in the company by identifying quality defects and ways to improve efficiency. This philosophy has established the corporate as a top quality champion to most automobile patrons. Toyota’s dedication to worker authorization and quality has allowed the company to become the world’s third largest automobile manufacturer.

Kanter’s Theory on Structural Empowerment:

Kanter’s theory has proven to have measurable impact on employee’s empowerment and organizational morale and success. He proposed a theory that focuses on the structures within the organization rather than the individual own qualities. He was of the view that the powers of leader will nurture if he shares the power by empowering others. This act would result in increased organizational performance. Kanter also stated the two systematic sources of power in an organization i.e. formal and informal. Formal is the one which accompanies high visibility jobs and requires a primary focus on independent decision making whereas, informal power comes building relationships and alliances with peers and colleagues (Wagner et al., 2010).

Benefits of Empowerment:

A company benefits from employee empowerment by developing personnel and attaining objectives and goals and overcoming challenges. The benefits of empowering are:
Company success: Customers benefits from sharp employees, companies benefit from both the customer and employee and ultimately employee benefit from improving confidence and self-esteem. (Fragoso)
Development of employees’ skills: According to Jason Hayes, Empowerment is the greatest way to develop employee. If they are provided with the opportunity to solve their own problems at their own, they are getting themselves prepared to move into higher positions.
Enhanced problem-solving: Empowerment is a great tool for employees to solve small problems at the very beginning which helps them to solve bigger problems in future.
Use of employees’ full potential: It is on part of upper management to make full potential of employees by providing them with resources for continuous improvement in company as an empowered employee is always a satisfied employee.

 

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