Team building and developing human capacity are two key elements of achieving employee empowerment

Team building and developing human capacity are two key elements of achieving employee empowerment.

In addition to confidence and skill to undertake new and increasingly challenging assignments, team members also need opportunities for growth and development. Employee confidence and capability increase as people gain additional experience in management and organization, as well as develop new skills and knowledge, including the ability to effectively pass on this knowledge. Empowerment is no simple, one-time task. It’s an ongoing process that requires effort and dedication to improve working relationships, thereby improving the overall effectiveness of the company.

Defining Employee Empowerment

Oftentimes, managers and other superiors are hesitant to fully embrace the principles of employee empowerment. They may feel this means they must relinquish their power. But, empowerment isn’t about giving up power. Rather, it’s about sharing that power with others in your chain of command. However, employee empowerment will certainly result in changes in processes and procedures. Important elements like decision making and problem solving will involve active participation from those in lower levels of command. Empowering employees is about more than just participation; it also involves autonomous analysis, decision making, and action. Employees will have authority to make independent decisions in their own area of expertise. This is why true empowerment requires a great deal of respect, trust, and transparency.

As a manager, you need to recognize and believe in the ability of your team members to utilize their good judgment and expertise to act independently. At the same time, you must also serve as a mediator and coach. The best way to get started in this process is to come up with a plan to implement some employee empowerment techniques in a non-threatening, non-intimidating way.

Getting Started

Accept the concept of PARTICIPATORY Management: Understand and embrace the idea that employee empowerment is a natural result of this process. The most important concept that guides Participatory Management is the idea that employee skills should be utilized at different levels, in a variety of unique ways. When employees are included in the process of brainstorming, skill sharing, and active leadership, chances are much greater that they’ll also be willing to share power. PARTICIPATORY MANAGEMENT harnesses people’s creative capacity and further equips them to steer their own development.

Train and prepare for empowerment: Discuss with team members the concept and advantages of empowerment. Spend adequate time addressing the change in roles from those who formerly only carried out decisions, to those who now make them. Provide training in brainstorming techniques, as well as other kinds of participatory interaction.

Provide cross learning opportunities: Instead of instructing each team individually, begin the peer learning process by having team members who’ve already gone through the process share this experience with others. Your team will learn the benefits of employee empowerment from their peers, while seeing proof that these techniques really do work. This strategy can be a big time saver, as well as an important reinforcement of the concept of employee empowerment.

Take things step by step: At first, assign projects that are well suited to participatory collaboration. Gradually move toward taking a collaborative approach to all team projects.

What are the advantages?

Employee empowerment is a beneficial process for employees, managers, and the company as a whole. Employees feel more invested in the company, valued as important contributors, and motivated to excel.

People who actively participate in the workplace see greater skill development, and gain a greater understanding of which techniques are effective and which ones are not. They also have a greater opportunity to come up with creative solutions to problems, and novel ways to improve performance. The power to utilize their creativity and knowledge leads to expertise. People who are able to independently evaluate and implement projects have a sense of ownership that makes them committed to the project’s success.

Indicators:

Empowerment can be difficult to quantify. There are no statistics or percentages by which to measure its success. When it comes to empowerment, qualitative indicators are the most important measure of success. Understand, however, that change does not occur overnight.

Indicators of success include:

Open management: Team members are actively involved in meetings, evaluation and analysis of important issues, and identifying creative solutions. Managers support their skill and autonomy, and allow team members to exercise control in these matters.

Team spirit: Team members and managers alike show a high degree of enthusiasm, and company morale is high.

Decentralized control: Team members function in relative autonomy, with overlapping roles and functions, all the while maintaining clear individual roles.

Taking these important employee empowerment measures will result in a more skilled, motivated, and autonomous employee team while at the same time increasing the overall effectiveness of the company.

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