People often toss around the word empowerment in the workplace without understanding the true meaning.
The term is often thought of as giving an employee unlimited authority to make decisions. However, empowerment is best defined by the individual’s perception as opposed to the perception of the organization as a whole.
Employees who feel more empowered have greater levels of satisfaction and take more ownership in their work. They tend to know where they fit in, what’s expected of them, what success looks like. If you’re not sure how to create an empowered environment, here are 3 keys that may be useful.
It’s critical to share information with your employees to ensure that they are able to do their jobs correctly. Clear policies and procedures go a long way toward establishing guidelines. It’s also important to clarify the intangible expectations as much as possible (expected behaviors, how to communicate with other team members, etc.). Sharing information also involves making sure everyone in the company is aware of how the company is doing and whether or not the company is achieving set goals.
Give autonomy within boundaries
Empowering employees also involves giving them decision making abilities within the boundaries of their job and not micromanaging their processes. For example, in a customer service-based position, the person in the first line of contact with a customer should have the ability to make decisions without involving a manager if it is for the good of the relationship with the customer. Empowering your employees also means that you don’t micromanage any decisions they make as long as they are within the established boundaries you both have agreed on.
Reduce unnecessary hierarchies
Empowered employees report less “red tape” when it comes to getting things done and having access to other people in the company. Organizations that have a flatter organizational structure tend to have employees who feel more empowered. Taking a look at your organizational chart and eliminating any unnecessary levels.
“Empowerment” isn’t just a word; it’s a coordinated set of actions that an organization can use to create the type of environment that is prepared for success. Using the above keys can help create a highly functioning team that is not only accountable to each other, but to the organization as a whole.
Source: Blanchard, K., Carlos, John, Randolph, A. The 3 Keys to Empowerment: Release the Power Within People for Astonishing Results, 2001.
Melendi Morton serves as the Administrator for KHA. She holds an MS in Human Resources Development from St. John Fisher College and an MIS from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.