Several years ago at a conference the word “empowerment” was probably the word most used during the daily lecture sessions. Empowerment is the process of enabling or authorizing an employee to think, behave, take action, and control work and decision-making in autonomous way with the job tasks that have been given to them. It is the state of feeling self-empowered to take control of one’s employment responsibilities.
Empowerment, if truly implemented properly will build relationships between business owners, their managers and team members as it spreads the responsibility of ownership for the business among all team players.
For years businesses have engaged in what is called “participation management.” Empowerment carries this idea a step beyond that concept by not only allowing team members to participate in decision-making, but they also are authorized to make decisions (within their job structure) on their own without seeking approval from higher management.
Let me give you an example from our office; one of our team members, who works mostly in the back office with the physicians, dispenses the patients durable medical equipment. He is also the one who has authority to do the purchasing of the medical equipment along with the back office supplies.
This is a great match of duties because he is seeing how much product is used up on a daily basis. He will do inventory and then shop for the best deals for pricing. The only time he ever comes to the business owner or manager is if he finds a great deal and wants to purchase more of the item to get a lower price. Otherwise he is free to purchase what is necessary to running the back office efficiently.
Along with the freedom to purchase equipment, he knows comes the responsibility of smart thinking and being accountable for his purchases. By being empowered to do this on his own has made him able to do his job more efficiently. Can you imagine if he had to come to a manager to ask about every single item for purchase and get approval. It would take and waste so much of his and his manager’s time.
Empowerment allows for more work to be done by each person without being held up. People who work in a specific job know a great deal more about what is going on in their work environment than managers who do not.
Empowerment also allows for the whole team to contribute to move the business ahead. By eliciting everyone’s input about new projects or making the office run more efficiently you are likely to pick up ideas that may not have occurred if it were just the owner or manager running the show alone.
Empowerment creates synergy which defined is; two or more units (people) working together to achieve a greater effect than individuals can by themselves. This is what happens when you have an empowered work team.
“As we look ahead into the next century, leaders will be those who empower others” ~ Bill Gates