Employee empowerment: A strategy and philosophy that enables employees to make decisions about their jobs. This term is used to express the ways in which non-managerial staff can make autonomous decisions without consulting a boss/manager. It is the state of feeling self-empowered to take control of one’s own destiny. These self-willed decisions can be small or large depending upon the degree of power with which the company wishes to invest employees.
Why apply Empowerment
• When employees feel as though they have choice and can make direct decisions, this does often lead to a greater feeling of self-worth.
• By offering employees choice and participation on a more responsible level, the employees are more invested in the company, and view themselves as a representative of such.
Techniques of Empowerment
One easy way to begin employee empowerment in the workplace is to install a suggestion box, where workers can make suggestions without fear of punishment or retribution. However, managers must then be willing to read and consider suggestions and also hold a once monthly meeting open to employees where all suggestions are addressed.
One method used to empower workers is the use of work teams. Such teams are collections of employees empowered to plan, organize, direct and control their own work.
The other method for empowerment is to change the team’s overall method of organizing. The basic pattern is for an organization to eliminate layers from its hierarchy, thus become much more decentralized. Power, responsibility and authority are delegated in the hands of those who actually do it.
Ways to make empowerment successful
Empowerment will enhance organizational effectiveness only if certain conditions exist.
• The organization must be sincere in its efforts to spread power and autonomy to lower levels of the organization.
• The organization must be committed to maintaining participation. Employee empowerment of any form can only work when managers are willing to be open to new ideas and strategies.
• The workers must truly believe that they and their managers are working together in their joint best interests.
• The organization must be systematic and patient in its efforts to empower workers. Turning over too much control too quickly can spell disaster.
• Finally the organization must be prepared to increase its commitment to training. Employees given more freedom in how they work will quite likely need additional training to help them exercise that freedom most effectively.
Disempowerment means lack of empowerment while the term “ disempowerment” represents a concept that describes a faulty or impaired process of empowerment. Eylon and Bamberger (2000) described disempowerment as an opposing construct to empowerment. It is associated with reduced feelings of self-efficacy and levels of performance.. The negative affective response that stems from disempowering acts could manifest itself in psychological withdrawal, fear, feelings of incompetence and lack of self-efficacy, and feelings of displeasure and personal offense–all of which can diminish response strength and distract from work performance.