Employee Empowerment

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Employee Empowerment if we elaborate the term giving powers to employee.empower the employee for various tasks and activities of their job.To empower means to enable, to allow or to permit, and can be conceived as both self-initiated and initiated by others. Empowerment is the process of enabling employees to set their own work-related goals, make decisions and solve problems with in their spheres of responsibility and authority. An important part of empowerment is the definition of spheres of responsibility and authority by management.

Empowerment allows people, individually and in groups, to use their talents and knowledge to make decisions that affect their work. People are held accountable for the results produced by others, whose formal role gives them the right to command but who lack informal influence, access to resources, outside status, sponsorship, or mobility prospects, are rendered powerless in the organization.

Empowerment is nor a programme. It is a culture change. Empowerment is the process of enabling or authorizing an individual to think, behave, and take action, and control work and decision-making in autonomous ways. It is the state of feeling self-empowered to take control of one’s own destiny.

Empowerment has become necessary due to the following reasons:

1.Time to respond is much shorter today.
2.First line employees must make many decisions.
3. There is great-untapped potential.
4.Employees feel much more control over their lives.
5. Empowered people do not feel like victims.

Empowerment is the process coming to feel and behave as if one is in power (autonomy and control) and to feel as if he/she owned the firm. Empowerment is the process of sharing power with employees. Employee Empowerment predominantly about encouraging front- line staff to solve customer problems on the spot, without constant recourse to management approval.

Employee Empowerment refers to management strategies for sharing decision- making power. Empowerment is giving subordinates the resources, both psychological and technical, to discover the varieties of power they themselves have and/ or accumulated, therefore which they can use on another’s behalf.
Empowerment is a process of risk taking and personal growth; it is the creation of work environment, which allows each individual to work his highest capacity. An empowered workplace is a safe climate for employees to work together with freedom to take initiative, to create, to solve problems, and to assume the responsibility of completing the task. Empowerment refers to processes that giving employees the authority to decide and act on their own initiatives, so that the added responsibility and authority is moved to the lowest possible in the organization. It allows the employees to assume both managerial and staff responsibilities.

For employee empowerment to work successfully, the management team must be truly committed to allowing employees to make decisions. They may wish to define the scope of decisions made. Building decision-making teams is often one of the models used in employee empowerment, because it allows for managers and workers to contribute ideas toward directing the company.

Employee empowerment is a two sided coin. For employees to be empowered the management leadership must want and believe that employee empowerment makes good business sense and employees must act. Let us be clear about one thing immediately, employee empowerment does not mean that management no longer has the responsibility to lead the organization and is not responsible for performance. If anything the opposite is true. Stronger leadership and accountability is demanded in an organization that seeks to empower employees. This starts with the executive leadership, through all management levels and includes front line supervisors. It is only when the entire organization is willing to work as a team that the real benefits of employee empowerment are realized.
For an organization to practice and foster employee empowerment the management must trust and communicate with employees. Employee communication is one of the strongest signs of employee empowerment. Honest and repeated communication from elements of the strategic plan, key performance indicators, financial performance, down to daily decision making.
If an organization has not been actively cultivating employee empowerment, it may take considerable time and effort before employees start to respond. Often the first efforts and communications are met with employee derision and mockery. Those who are only interested in trying the latest management fad will give up when met with this response. A good rule of thumb for communications to employees is to enumerate what management considers adequate and then multiple by a factor of ten. When considering employee understanding and acceptance of decisions consider how long it takes for the management team to discuss and then make a decision. Allow several multiples of this time for employees to think about the issue.

For management wanting employee empowerment the evidence will not come across the board with wide spread acceptance. A small number will accept the invitation to become more involved, say 3-5 per cent. The rest will be watching every move to see what happens. Every communication, decision and action by management will be viewed as either supporting a move to employee empowerment or not. Probably nothing demonstrates the commitment or lack of commitment to employee empowerment more than promotions and selection for leadership positions. Employees know those that attempt to “shine up while dumping down”.
For an organization to enjoy the returns from employee empowerment the leadership must diligently work to create the work environment where it is obvious to all that employee empowerment is desired, wanted and cultivated. Management’s responsibility is to create the environment for employee empowerment.
When organizational leadership has started to take actions to encourage employee empowerment it is then up to the employees to decided if they wish to take advantage of the opportunity or not. It is not unusual for only a small minority to accept the challenge initially. Also it is very likely that some fraction will never respond. It is the large middle group that must be convinced to practice employee empowerment.
It is our conviction that most organizations have exactly the level of employee empowerment the management wants. This is demonstrated by the amount of communications, level of training provided employees, opportunities for personal growth, the solicitation and implementation of ideas, the recognition and reward system, promotion and advancement criteria, and uncountable little signals from management that demonstrate whether employees are valued or not.

When Six Sigma is deployed in an organization employees have numerous opportunities to demonstrate that they are empowered. Unless there is employee motivation to accept and act on the opportunities little will change.
Employee empowerment is evidenced by working with a six sigma project team to understand the changes coming out of the project. Being a participant using improvements found by others is a form of empowerment.
Employee can demonstrate empowerment by suggesting areas or processes that might be candidates for a six sigma project. Part of employee empowerment is the recognition by management that often people who most know of pressing needs for improvement are those who have to work in the process.
Employee empowerment can take the form of being asked to bring expert knowledge to six sigma projects. Even if not a full time member of the project team the fact that competence and first hand experience are valued and an employee is willing to help demonstrates a level of empowerment.
The employee can volunteer to serve on a project team as a Green Belt. This usually means that the employee has some subject matter expertise in the process scoped for a project. By completing the Green Belt training the employees will learn the Fundamental Improvement tools and will learn how to use the Define Measure Analyze Improve and Control steps as part of problem solving. With this additional skill sets the empowerment of the employee is increased, they are able to work more effectively and efficiently in solving problems and providing potential solutions.

Employees can make it know that they would like to become Black Belts. This form of employee empowerment assumes that the employee has the necessary skills and ability to complete the Black Belt training. Usually this means a college level education with comfort in mathematics and if not some statistical understanding a willingness to learn.
One of the strongest signs from employees is when they take the lead to advance their skills and knowledge with education and training either provided by the organization or out side the organization.
Management has the obligation to create the environment that fosters employee empowerment, employees have the duty to accept the opportunity and demonstrate they are willing and capable.
Considering the nature of service delivery and particularly intangible-dominant services, employee empowerment becomes a very important issue to organizations producing services. In that, the customers and the employees are, engaged simultaneously in the production of the service. This inseparability is what is considered by the organization in choosing how best to serve its customers, either by the traditional method or through the empowerment approach.
The inability of the management to control the service encounter makes the employees responsible for the quality of service delivered to the customers. In order for the management to trust that the employees are successful in dealing with their customers, the management has to give the employees the authority and necessary support to succeed at it, which is referred to as employee empowerment. The practice of which can directly affect the quality of services delivered, and customer satisfaction.


Employee empowerment provides people the responsibility and authority to make decisions. Empowerment frequently results in greater commitment and cooperation; creative ideas and solutions; and greater ownership from employees.
Creating an empowered workforce is a great to increase organizational effectiveness and success. Empowerment works they are given the necessary recourses, property trained and managed. Then only they will be able to successfully perform and make effective decisions.

Employee empowerment requires the following pre –requisites:


Employees feel more committed to the organization when they are involved in the decision making process.


Employees sometimes need on the spot decisions for the benefit of the organization. Employees work say in customer service need to be able to quickly respond to customer’s need and problems without having constantly go up the chain of command.


Employees directly involved with a problem can better determine the optimal solution. For example, a work group can figure out how to re-engineer its work process far better than employees/managers that do not directly work on the process/project.


The types of empowerment are depicted below:


It includes close control, formal; sets out clear boundaries; clear rules passed on through training.

It includes certain boundaries set; expecting employees to use their experience/common sense to make decision; guidelines rather than rules.

Empowerment Continuum

Empowerment efforts have gained widespread attention for their ability to make organizations more efficient and productive. A skill is an ability to translate knowledge into action that results in a desired performance. There are three categories of skill viz. – technical skill, human skill and conceptual skill. By giving ‘power’ it gives responsibility to employees without extra reward and organizations get a cost saving from de-layering management.
The empowerment continuum is depicted below:

What are some of the common myths about empowerment?
• Everybody’s doing it.
• It’s easy.
• Every manager wants empowered employees.
• Every employee wants to be empowered.
• All the manager needs to do is leave the empowered employees alone.

Guidelines for effective employee empowerment

• Select the right managers.
• Choose the right employees.
• Provide training.
• Offer guidance.
• Hold everyone accountable.
• Build trust.
• Focus on relationships.
• Stress organizational values.
• Transform mistakes into opportunities.
• Reward and recognize.
• Share authority instead of giving it up.
• Encourage dissent.
• Give it time.
• Accept increased turnover.
• Share information.
• Realize that empowerment has its limitations.
• Watch for mixed messages.
• Face your own ambivalence
• Involve employees in decision-making.
• Be prepared for increased variation.

Benefit of empowerment

The major benefits are employee empowerments are as under:
1. Having an employee empowerment effort will help an organization by improving individual self-esteem, self-efficacy, and other behaviors. The investment in the workforce will yield direct cost saving for the organization- as well as improved morale of employees.
2. Employee empowerment helps in getting individuals to be more self-reliant. However, the critical difference is the ability of this process to enable employees to take control of their responsibilities, better utilizes exiting resources and makes wiser decisions.

Barriers to empowerment

Empowerment can fail for any one of several reasons:
* The manager's fear of losing power.
* Pressure from the manager's boss to be on top of all details.
* Rationalization that employees are not ready.
* Fear of losing control reduces empowerment.
* The feeling that "Only I can make the right decisions".
* Fear of having nothing to do...being redundant or having no purpose.
* Fear of losing face or status.
* Not accepting that subordinates are more knowledgeable or better placed to make some decisions.
* Lack of support from the organization's culture - demands for more centralized decision making.
* Preaching the value of making mistakes while still punishing them.
* Not providing clear authority or boundaries.

Top 10 Principles of Employee Empowerment

The Credo of an Empowering Manager
These are the ten most important principles for managing people in a way that reinforces employee empowerment, accomplishment, and contribution. These management actions enable both the people who work with you and the people who report to you to soar.

1. Demonstrate You Value People
Your regard for people shines through in all of your actions and words. Your facial expression, your body language, and your words express what you are thinking about the people who report to you. Your goal is to demonstrate your appreciation for each person's unique value. No matter how an employee is performing on their current task, your value for the employee as a human being should never falter and always be visible.

2. Share Leadership Vision
Help people feel that they are part of something bigger than themselves and their individual job. Do this by making sure they know and have access to the organization's overall mission, vision, and strategic plans.

3. Share Goals and Direction
Share the most important goals and direction for your group. Where possible, either make progress on goals measurable and observable, or ascertain that you have shared your picture of a positive outcome with the people responsible for accomplishing the results.

4. Trust People
Trust the intentions of people to do the right thing, make the right decision, and make choices that, while maybe not exactly what you would decide, still work.

5. Provide Information for Decision Making
Make certain that you have given people, or made sure that they have access to, all of the information they need to make thoughtful decisions.

6. Delegate Authority and Impact Opportunities, Not Just More Work
Don’t just delegates the drudge work; delegate some of the fun stuff, too. You know, delegate the important meetings, the committee memberships that influence product development and decision making, and the projects that people and customers notice. The employee will grow and develop new skills. Your plate will be less full so you can concentrate on contribution. Your reporting staff will gratefully shine - and so will you.

7. Provide Frequent Feedback
Provide frequent feedback so that people know how they are doing. Sometimes, the purpose of feedback is reward and recognition. People deserve your constructive feedback, too, so they can continue to develop their knowledge and skills.

8. Solve Problems: Don't Pinpoint Problem People
When a problem occurs, ask what is wrong with the work system that caused the people to fail, not what is wrong with the people. Worst case response to problems? Seek to identify and punish the guilty. (Thank you, Dr. Deming.)

9. Listen to Learn and Ask Questions to Provide Guidance
Provide a space in which people will communicate by listening to them and asking them questions. Guide by asking questions, not by telling grown up people what to do. People generally know the right answers if they have the opportunity to produce them.

10. Help Employees Feel Rewarded and Recognized for Empowered Behavior
When employees feel under-compensated, under-titled for the responsibilities they take on, under-noticed, under-praised, and under-appreciated, don’t expect results from employee empowerment.

Empowering Employees to Get Results
Step 1: --Decentralizing Decision making Power
Step 2: --Hold All Employees Accountable for Results
Step 3: --Giving the Employees Tools they need to do Their--Jobs
Step 4: --Enhancing the Quality of Work life
Step 6: Exerting Leadership

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