Empowerment is a process. As with any other process, it has inputs and outputs. The cyclic process of empowerment cannot be executed without employees, leaders, and systems aligned with the goals of empowerment. Both employees and leaders want to know “what’s in it for me?” and the empowerment process produces results describing that.
||Self-Determination: Freedom; Independence; Discretion|
|Leaders||Meaning: Care about the work; Doing something important|
|Supporting Culture: Processes; Structure; Skills; Style; Systems; Symbols||Competence: Confident of their ability; Want to grow|
|Impact: Active participation; Influence company success|
(“Results” from MacShane, 2005, p. 191)
The organization must have a culture that enables and promotes empowering people.
- Trustworthy Employees: Employees need to demonstrate their willingness and ability to participate as part of the team.
- Leaders: Willing and able to “let go.” Empowerment requires that leads let employees make decisions (within bounds). Multi-Skilled (Visionary, Mentor, Coach, Director, etc.).
- Supporting Culture: Processes; Structure; Skills; Style; Systems (Motivation, Learning, Reward, Recognition, Employee Development); Symbols.
EMPOWERMENT PROCESS CYCLE:
“Rinse, lather, and repeat.” Just like washing your hair, this is a repeating process. Sometimes the supervisor needs to skip around the eight items and deal with the problem of the day as it occurs.
NOTE: This process was presented in a previous blog posting: “HOW DO YOU TRANSITION FROM TECHNOLOGY EXPERT TO SUPERVISOR AND LEADER?”; February 7, 2017.
- Build Trust-Based Relationships: Supervisors and employees need to earn each other’s trust. Trust is the foundation of all human relationships.
- Communicate: People need to know what you want them to do. They need to know the context.
- Delegate: Delegate responsibility, authority, and accountability. Don’t hold an employee accountable without giving them the authority they need to get the item of responsibility completed.
- Manage Resources: Supervisors can have all kinds of resources made available and under their responsibility. People, of course. Tools, equipment, and facilities as well. Manage the “things.” Lead the people.
- Mentor and Coach: Mentoring is sharing what you know. Coaching is drawing out what they already know.
- Motivate: Supervisor’s need to motivate employees.
- Use What You Know (Develop): Employees gain knowledge, skills, abilities, and experience in the process of doing the work. How did they do the last time? Are they ready for something bigger?
- Measure (Track Results): Individual and organizational goals.
Employees who find self-determination, meaning, feelings of competence, and understand their impact are motivated and perform at a level higher than other employees. Properly motivated, employees produce more, better (high quality), and more creative work product. Employees’ needs are met for affiliation, achievement, and power.
Employees who are cared for, and feel that way, tend to stay. The retention of the right employees reduces cost, improves efficiency, and increases effectiveness.
Great employees produce great products that satisfy customers. Satisfied customers generate added revenue and profit for the company.
REFERENCE: McShane, S.L., Von Glinow, M.A., (2005). Organizational behavior: emerging realities for the workplace revolution (3rd ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Mr. Czerniak retired after a successful career that culminated in fifteen years of experience as an internal consultant and “change agent.” He is currently an Expert-in-Residence at the Macomb-Oakland University Incubator and a volunteer with other clients.