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  1. 1. Empowerment Last Updated 6/20/2008
  2. 2. Definition: Employee Empowerment <ul><ul><li>Empowerment is the process of enabling or authorizing an individual to think, behave, 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. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>When thinking about empowerment in human relations terms, try to avoid thinking of it as something that one individual does for another. This is one of the problems organizations have experienced with the concept of empowerment. People think that &quot;someone,&quot; usually the manager, has to bestow empowerment on the people who report to him. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Consequently, the reporting staff members &quot;wait&quot; for the bestowing of empowerment, and the manager asks why people won't act in empowered ways. This led to a general unhappiness, mostly undeserved, with the concept of empowerment in many organizations. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Think of empowerment, instead, as the process of an individual enabling himself to take action and control work and decision making in autonomous ways. </li></ul></ul>
  3. 3. Empowerment comes from the individual. <ul><ul><li>The organization has the responsibility to create a work environment which helps foster the ability and desire of employees to act in empowered ways. The work organization has the responsibility to remove barriers that limit the ability of staff to act in empowered ways. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Employee involvement is creating an environment in which people have an impact on decisions and actions that affect their jobs. </li></ul></ul>
  4. 4. Empowerment comes from the individual Part 2 <ul><ul><li>Tell: the supervisor makes the decision and announces it to staff. The supervisor provides complete direction. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Consult: The key to a successful consultation is to inform employees, on the front end of the discussion, that their input is needed, but that the supervisor is retaining the authority to make the final decision. This is the level of involvement that can create employee dissatisfaction most readily when this is not clear to the people providing input. </li></ul></ul>
  5. 5. Empowerment comes from the individual Part 3 <ul><ul><li>NEW: &quot;Today many American corporations spend a great deal of money and time trying to increase the originality of their employees, hoping thereby to get a competitive edge in the marketplace. But such programs make no difference unless management also learns to recognize the valuable ideas among the many novel ones, and then finds ways of implementing them.&quot; --Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi </li></ul></ul>
  6. 6. Empowerment comes from the individual Part 4 <ul><ul><li>It is vital that employees do not feel “whipped” when they make a mistake. Punishment (however they perceive it) will only cause them to reduce their feelings of empowerment. It is important to approach corrective action as a learning process and allow the employee to feel confident and assured that he/she is still doing the right thing. It is very easy to discourage an employee with negative feedback. More than likely, an employee can self evaluate a situation and determine what went wrong and what to do next time. </li></ul></ul>
  7. 7. Empowerment comes from the individual Part 5 <ul><ul><li>When employees are trained and empowered, there are many nifty benefits. One is the customer is helped quickly and effectively. Another is the company does not need to have supervisors running around making decisions that someone else is capable of making. That is redundancy. And a great benefit is employees feel good about themselves since they are making decisions and taking ownership. In fact, another definition of empowerment is “to give somebody a sense of confidence or self-esteem.” Can’t go wrong there. </li></ul></ul>
  8. 8. Empowerment comes from the individual Part 6 <ul><ul><li>Empowerment is insuring employees closest to a problem or need have the authority to make judgments on how the problem is solved or the need met. Empowerment does not mean unlimited license...”just do whatever you need to do.…” It means responsible freedom. It means employees who balance the freedom to go the extra mile for the customer with the responsibility of taking care of the organization. It means thinking and acting more like an owner, and not like a brainless slave who simply “does what he or she is told.” Organizations can no longer afford front-line people reluctant to use their full capacity at work. Cop out behind, “I just did what I was told,” or “Just tell me what to do,” and everyone loses. </li></ul></ul>
  9. 9. Empowerment comes from the individual Part 7 <ul><ul><li>In many organizations, the workforce often feels frustrated and stifled by not being permitted to have any input into their work. This situation leads to unnecessary stress and lack of productivity </li></ul></ul>
  10. 10. Here is why it works: <ul><ul><li>When people are given the power to make decisions and take action on their own, managers are not constantly being called in for their authority, which saves them time and avoids constant distraction. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>When people can take reasonable action without needing to wait for approval, improvements take place more quickly. In addition, people are more likely to observe problems and fix them, because they have more personal involvement. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Increased responsibility leads people to become more involved in their jobs, which makes it less likely they will move to another organization. That saves money in several different ways - for example, by cutting back on recruiting and training costs, and by avoiding the disruption of personnel changes. Companies with less desirable jobs have to pay higher salaries to attract (and keep) the same caliber of employee. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>When people are involved in their jobs and invested with the power to do what they know best, large-scale change is also more likely, because all the local, small changes needed to support the large change are easier to implement. People can see what needs to be done, and act accordingly. </li></ul></ul>
  11. 11. Here is why it works part 2: <ul><ul><li>There is lots of evidence that, when people are given clear direction, authority, and responsibility, it usually works out well. The job enrichment literature is full of examples of cases where, for example, having employees check and fix their own work reduces costs and increases speed. The principles have been applied to everyone from janitors to engineers. We refer you to the out-of-print New Perspectives in Job Enrichment for details. </li></ul></ul>
  12. 12. Allow employees to suggest better ways of getting their jobs done. <ul><ul><li>Ask for employee suggestions for other ways of getting the task or project accomplished. Listen and be willing to really hear the employees' comments. Employees often report that they have no input and are told exactly how to perform their jobs, leaving no creativity. </li></ul></ul>
  13. 13. Provide positive reinforcement. <ul><ul><li>Always listen and acknowledge your employees. Employees often report that their decisions and actions are second-guessed and that most, if not all, feedback given is negative. </li></ul></ul>
  14. 14. Be clear in your communication. <ul><ul><li>When you express goals or explain projects, be sure the employees really understand what you are asking for. Employees often report that the goals are unclear and that they are not sure what they are being asked to do. </li></ul></ul>
  15. 15. Show you have trust in your employees. <ul><ul><li>Allow them to make mistakes as a form of learning. Show that it is really ok to make mistakes. Let them know you really support their decisions. Employees often report that someone is always looking over their shoulder to make sure they do things right. </li></ul></ul>
  16. 16. Listen. Listen. Listen. <ul><ul><li>Do you do most of the talking? Employees often report that conversations are one way, comprised mostly of their ideas being criticized. They don't feel they are heard. </li></ul></ul>
  17. 17. Be interested in the employees' career development. <ul><ul><li>Meet with employees and discover their goals and their wants. Employees often report that their goals are not viewed as important in the organization. </li></ul></ul>
  18. 18. Let the employees help you achieve success. <ul><ul><li>Are you doing it all yourself? Employees often report that their managers do all the tasks and that they have no way to make contributions outside their job descriptions. Look for opportunities to delegate and enhance the employees' career development at the same time. </li></ul></ul>
  19. 19. Be a coach. <ul><ul><li>The best way to empower employees is not to manage them. Coach them to success. This is a process of developing their skills and providing them specific feedback to meet high standards. Employees often report feeling like children rather than being on the same team with their bosses. Be their coach and lead the team to success! </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Build Relationships </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Good relationships are the foundation for better communications, improved decisions, and increased performance. The most direct way to build relationships, is by getting to know people personally, through a confidential dialog </li></ul></ul>
  20. 20. Involve People in Decisions <ul><ul><li>When a decision is coming up that affects people; involve them in it in some way. This doesn’t mean you hand over the store, but it does mean you discuss issues and get ideas. You can always ask for people’s ideas on how to carry out a decision. </li></ul></ul>
  21. 21. Build Teamwork <ul><ul><li>People want teamwork. It is the key to high morale. Encourage managers to share information, discuss issues, and make decisions with their whole team. Help managers see that one-on-one decisions don’t foster a culture of cooperation, teamwork, and trust. </li></ul></ul>
  22. 22. Value People’s Ideas <ul><ul><li>Most employees have many ideas to improve their work, but they see no evidence that their ideas are valued. Change that. Meet with employees and work teams, to discuss openly and without judgment, issues, opportunities, and new ideas. Let people know that what they think is as important as what upper managers think. Have groups analyze and recommend solutions to their own problems. </li></ul></ul>
  23. 23. Encourage Group Feedback <ul><li>Get the workgroup together. Have each person </li></ul><ul><li>write on the easel pad one response from each </li></ul><ul><li>person to these two questions. (Don't allow </li></ul><ul><li>discussion or comments.) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“ What do I do now that makes your job easier? This is something I should do more of.” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>“ What don’t I do that would make your job easier if I did. i.e. What new action you would like me to take?” </li></ul></ul>
  24. 24. Encourage Group Feedback part 2 <ul><ul><li>After everyone is finished, ask the group to discuss what happened and what people might do with the information. </li></ul></ul>
  25. 25. To truly empower employees <ul><ul><li>Know your employees well. Know their strengths, weaknesses, capabilities, and limitations. Know what they can and can't do; know them well enough to be able to judge which of them should be given what assignments. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Teach them what to do and how to do it. This is one of the weakest points in the delegation process as usually practiced; some managers tend to make an assignment and move on with inadequate attention to preparing the employee, when in reality this step can be time-consuming. The manager's &quot;reward&quot; of time saved comes well in the future; to save time in the future usually requires spending more time in the present. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Provide all the authority necessary for task completion. Empowered employees should command all the resources needed to get the job done. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Define limits and expectations. This is crucial; employees need to know precisely the results you're looking for and how far they can go in achieving those results. Focus on results; within reason, you needn't be concerned with all the steps taken to achieve those results. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Turn them loose. Once you feel that they know what's to be done, when it's to be done, and what results are expected, let them do it. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Be available to provide advice and assistance as needed, but let them come to you. Don't hover and don't micromanage. Don't intrude uninvited unless you see something going so wrong that it can't be left alone. </li></ul></ul>
  26. 26. Empowerment and Autonomy <ul><ul><li>Empowerment and autonomy gives employees responsibility and some authority to get their job done. Employees want to feel trusted and valued as a member of the practice. When they are granted independence, not only can you, the employer, concentrate on other issues, but also the employees can make better decisions, become happier and ultimately more productive. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Encourage employees to thrive on positive action rather than focus on mistakes. Now the office environment becomes a better place to work because the employees are empowered to make their own decisions. There is the freedom to think, and it is fun! </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Team spirit takes more than designating team members and giving them an assignment. Successful teams are infused with energy that pulls them together to reach the common goal. Ultimately, you want a practice to come together as a whole and not as individual parts. The team approach tackles problem solving by involving each employee in a cross-training program </li></ul></ul>