Empowerment of employees - does it work and should you do it? Being part of an integrator gives me a view into the minds of some of the most interesting managers, some great, some just poor. What makes the difference, empowerment? Every company has a different calling for the people they empower, from SMEs to HEROs, etc. but they all do the same thing, they are trusted professionals in their field capable of making decisions and ad hoc adjustments for the benefit of their customer base and their employer. How many companies have these professionals and more importantly - how many actually leverage and use them effectively?
Take a look at one of the most recent surveys conducted, 4000 professionals surveyed yet only 20% are empowered and capable of making decisions. WOW, what a shortfall of talent. We, as real world people, experience it every day. Simply look at each time you call support; someone takes you through a process, solves nothing and then passes you on to someone else. Does that make the professional any less capable of solving the problem – NO! They are stuck in a position where they have no authority due to the bureaucracy of their company, holding them to a finite solution set that assists nearly no one. This is the opposite of empowerment; this is stripping people of their capability of making decisions and benefiting from the work force that is currently in place.
The success of a company can ride on the empowerment of the employees. However it is a double edged sword - one must be careful with whom it is assigned and ensure the proper people carry that power. Given in the wrong hands, say Wall Street professionals with little or too much training, we develop our current economic crisis. Give it to few, and your competitor who trains and embraces it beats you out and places you out of business (several retail stores come to mind). HR has a focus of handling internal employees and handling their development. Few HR areas actually handle and have a true talent development program, one in which the employees are trained and mentored to move within the company and benefit the overall vision. So individual managers must make the sacrifice of time and effort but the benefits are large. With proper oversight, the ability for a manager to increase efficiency and overall customer satisfaction through workforce empowerment is strong.
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