A business organization, whether big or small, always aims at higher growth and greater prosperity for itself and its employees. However, not many of these organizations realize that one of the best ways of doing so is through employee empowerment.
Some managers who are familiar with the term believe it to be a one-time event and hope to achieve it by holding empowerment seminars or by having an employee day at the office. Employee empowerment is not an event. In fact, it is a continuous process. You have to constantly tap into your employee’s potential so that it can be used successfully within a team. You have to be on the constant lookout for ways in which you can provide your staff with the opportunities to take charge, be innovative and make the decisions. However, with this kind of authority comes responsibility and your employees must be made aware that they will be expected to fulfill their responsibilities. Therefore, the process of empowerment requires a commitment from you and your employees to be successful.
However, not all employees will understand empowerment or believe that it is a good thing. In fact, you would have seen many team members come to you saying that the task assigned to them was not their responsibility, as they were not hired to do that task. One cannot blame the employee entirely since many traditional organizations have long rewarded loyalty and conformity while frowning upon anyone wishing to do things differently. Where else do you think clichés like ‘toe the line’ and ‘do not rock the boat’ became so popular? However, this came at the expense of flexibility and innovation in employees and led actually to stunting the growth of these businesses. Employees today will naturally be very suspicious of this new way of working and will have to be told that all attempts to be innovative and to think out of the box will be suitably rewarded.
Of course, not all employees will agree at once. You will need to take time in convincing them about the need of empowerment, make them understand its significance and create the trust that will help your staff to be more responsive towards accepting the added responsibility and accountability. Similarly you and other managers may also resist empowerment since it means having to give up control over many tasks. On the other hand, responsibility for a certain task is now shared by all those working on it. You have to examine how you feel about empowerment and be frank about it. You should understand how comfortable you would feel sharing responsibility with your staff members. While you may not want to give up total control, start by examining your own feelings and beliefs about managerial control and how comfortable you are sharing responsibility with team members.
Finally, you have to look at ways in which you can reach middle ground with your employees. You may have most of the control and the responsibility while your employees may assist you more in facilitation and co-ordination of the project leading to the overall success of the project.