Empowerment, the buzz behind the word

June 23, 2014       The NonProfit Times      

Empowerment is a great buzzword that in the right circumstances can actually mean something. Regardless of the word, the concept offers exciting ideas for workplace management.

In her book “Execution is the Strategy,” Laura Stack gives insights into employee empowerment by writing about what it is not. That means:

  • Empowerment is not a right. It is a privilege that must be earned. Individuals should be empowered by management only when they prove they can do the job. On the other hand, the opportunity to become empowered should be a right.
  • Employees don’t always assume empowerment, no matter what management might think. If employees don’t take the initiative to own their jobs, it’s because they don’t feel empowered to do so, maybe because the organization’s leadership hasn’t made clear they can.
  • Empowerment is not a bunch of motivational posters or slogans to which management pays lip service but doesn’t follow.
  • Empowerment is not a blank check for anything the employee wants. Management must set explicit boundaries within a strategic framework so employees will know which decisions they can make without management approval.
  • Empowerment is not management by consensus. Rather, when properly implemented, it gives workers the authority to do their own jobs, not the work of management.
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