xxxxi) Changes to Create Empowerment


It has been found (Harry Onsman, 2004d) that businesses that practise empowerment are more profitable, generate more sales per employee and have less staff turnover.

. To create an empowered workforce takes time.

. Do not underestimate the resilience of organisations to maintain the status quo and to undermine empowerment.

. Empowerment is very fragile. It needs high levels of open communication and trust to succeed

. Empowerment is about sharing power and means "power with" rather than "power over"; it is more closely related to personal development than authority

"...Power is a subject with emotional overtones and undertones in most organisations. All organisations maintain power structures, although the source of power wielded by individuals can range from coercion (do this or you will be sacked) to expert power (do this because this is the best thing to do)..."

Harry Onsman, 2004d

. Other types of power include

- positional (authority derived from position in the organisations hierarchy)

- reward (do this and I will reward you)

- charismatic or referent (do this because I asked you to)

. Currently, managers have less control over staff. The reasons for this are

- wider spans of control

- increasing use of teams

- increasing number of knowledge workers

- increasing specialization of jobs

- information technology

. The route to empowerment is by

- sharing information (to create trust and loyalty)

- creating autonomy through boundaries (this will remove uncertainty and create clarity; boundaries start with the big picture, ie what the organisation is trying to do and how it is going to do it; define acceptable behaviour by purpose, mission and value statements; provide training for staff to handle empowerment)

. The process of empowerment works on 3 levels: individual, relationship and organisational structures ‐ and it requires changes at all 3 levels:

1 Individual's mindset when empowered

. Helps employees get the job done

. Initiates inquiry about common ways of thinking

. Challenges assumptions

. Encourages risks and experimentation

. Delegates authority and responsibility

. Inspires a shared purpose by listing values, hopes and dreams

. Fosters a learning environment

. Promotes sharing information and collaborative problem-solving

. Models behaviour, ie walk the talk

. Appreciates diversity of style and behaviour

. Focuses on developing people

. Gives "carefrontational" (not confrontational) feedback and helps people learn and grow

. Encourages self-expression and open discussion of conflict

. Takes responsibility for actions

. Speaks out about problems and ways to work better

. Seeks to solve problems, not to place blame

. Sees a network of customer relationships (internal and external)

. Is willing to engage in inquiry about assumptions

2 Relationships between empowered people

. Commitment to collaboration

. Mutual trust and respect

. Engagement of others in decisions

. Shared accountability, rewards and penalties

. Helpfulness to each other

. Communication of all relevant information

. Cross-departmental learning

. Focus on process and learning

3 Organisational Structure

. Rewards systems are consistent with organisational values

. Shared values are commonly accepted, well articulated and widely understood

. Human capital focus on individual performance encouraged

. Work autonomy and job flexibility such as multi-skilling

. Commitment to high-quality customer service

. Commitment to effective communication

. Creation of a community, ie people like to work together

. Effective stress management

(source: Cynthia Scott et al, 1991)

The ultimate aim of empowerment is

"...To understand that excitement and success come when employees think and act as if they own the company......employees should think like shareholders..."

Suzy Wetlaufer, 1999

"...If you don't look after people, they will not look after you..."

AFRBoss, 2000


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