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Employee empowerment creates a working environment in which the employee assumes or shares ownership of specific tasks and projects. Ideally, this empowerment increase the employees' sense of responsibility, enhances their morale and improves the quality of the work product. Granting more power creates employees who are more invested in the company and its success.
Some employers forget that their hired hands also have brains. By tapping the expertise, intuition and knowledge base of their employees, organizations can create an army of creative go-getters who are unafraid to assume accountability for their output and performance. These "intrapreneurs" will relentlessly devise ways to improve systems and outcomes, and often encourages employees to share best practices and ideas across departments. On a practical level, delegating certain responsibilities to employees means supervisors can invest more time in focusing on other areas of the business.
In an organization that empowers employees, the relationship between management and the workforce inverts. Instead of the employee working for the manager, the manger essentially supports the efforts of the employees and offers guidance when necessary. To facilitate the employees' efforts, Managers must provide adequate resources and training, and they must ensure that the employees acquire the information they need to carry out their tasks.
Employee empowerment can vary from organization to organization. Some companies may empower individual employees, while others may hand responsibility to empowered teams. This empowerment often involves the expansion of duties the employee or teams already perform. For example, the employee who reviews job applications may now be participate in the interview and hiring process. Or, the team charged with creating advertising copy may be invited to participate more actively in the creation and implementation of an entire advertising campaign.
Micromanaged organizations, in which supervisors have overseen all major decisions and projects, will need extensive restructuring and training before implementing employee empowerment. That training will apply to managers as well as employees. Managers will have to learn how to delegate greater responsibility, and that means developing a level of trust that may currently reside outside their comfort zone. Companies must adequately prepare supervisors for the change. Allowing the managers and employees to share responsibility with smaller tasks, and then gradually evolving the process may ensure that the company doesn't suffer culture shock.