Empowerment is a valuable tool if used effectively, to enable those around you to be able to make decisions, take the initiative and feel valued. Empowerment is especially useful as a managerial skill, to empower colleagues, allowing them to take ownership of their own work and to have a certain feeling of having power, albeit limited. A manager can then prioritise his own work, safe in the knowledge that his team of staff are working towards a common goal, as a team.
Empowerment starts early in life, when our parents have seen that we have learnt by experience, we can be empowered to start decision making, whilst adhering to boundaries of action and movement. Gradually we are given more freedom to be responsible for our actions and the world opens up to us with opportunities.
Early experienced of being controlled or overprotected shape our adult ideas about boundaries that may not exist, and we may find we make excuses for not doing activities as we are fearful of the result. Lack of empowerment can have a negative effect on our feelings of capability.
However once we understand why we act the way we do, and that early conditioning has shaped us in certain ways, we have the ability to change.
Empowerment is most often seen in the workplace. Instead of a manager having to oversee every piece of work his workers do, he can trust them.
Empowerment requires an organization to work in an open honest environment, informing workers about regular developments, opportunities and threats as well as making sure employees are well aware of the company’s main aims and vision.
Involving everyone on major changes such as office moves, Christmas parties helps people feel involved and valued, knowing that their contribution matters. This also enables workers to feel that management respect their humble opinions and value their skills and experience.
If managers are sufficiently trained on how to empower staff the circle widens, with all workers feeling that making decisions when empowered will not cause them any negative impact, and will simply be used to learn from.
In the event of a crisis, an empowered person can take charge, knowing that they are taking the right actions to help the situation.
Empowerment includes feeling involved, having sufficient knowledge and experience, feeling like part of a team and understanding that your actions would impact on others, and most importantly self esteem, knowing that you are valued by your manager or peers.
Unfortunately empowerment can be hampered by a boss who is indecisive and cannot allow workers to take own initiative. A boss who lacks trust in his workers and needs to micro manage them will not be able to empower them. Any undermining of power and authority will also have a negative impact on feelings of being valued and respected, decreasing the likelihood of having a motivated team.
An empowered boss in a small company can make the difference between the company increasing in success in the marketplace. Allowing workers to make their own decisions in a trusting supportive open environment, can give the boss the time to be pushing the business forwards and taking it to the next level.
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