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When organizations adopt strategies that promote employee empowerment, they benefit through cost savings, improved employee relations and increased customer satisfaction. Employees gain opportunities for individual career development and a positive work culture that is responsive to their personal concerns. As an employee, you can expect more recognition and respect, and a more congenial work environment. If you are fortunate enough to work for such a employer, it's important to understand how to meet expectations to maximize your employee empowerment benefits.
The Meaning of Employee Empowerment
Employee empowerment is a management approach that shares decision making with subordinates. For example, line workers at Toyota Corporation can intervene in the production process to stop defective cars from coming off the assembly line. Managers must make sure subordinates have the training, tools, resources and time required to make effective decisions. The goal is to create a work culture in which employees are confident and knowledgeable enough to work without supervision.
Acclimating new or existing employees to shared decision making is a process. A supervisor can start a new worker out by delegating simple decisions. As the employee gains experience and self confidence, more challenging tasks are assigned. Over time, the employee's ability to work independently grows steadily.
Benefits of Employee Empowerment
Improved Work Outcomes. Positive employee empowerment provides workers with a sense of ownership of their work. If you work in this sort of atmosphere, you will gain in self-confidence. This benefits both you and your employer, because you will get in the habit of paying attention to details and making choices that move a project toward the desired goal. As you learn to make your own decisions, your efficiency improves, because you don't need to stop and consult a manager every time a decision must be made.
Increased Employee Satisfaction. Empowered employees usually find their jobs more satisfying. This is partly thanks to the fact that you will find it much easier to enjoy tasks when you have a voice in how they are done. Teamwork is important as well. As you, your manager and your co-workers learn to share decision making, collaboration improves. This kind of work environment makes it easier to trust each other and share ideas.
Cost Benefits. For the employer, sharing decisions is an effective way of reducing costs. For instance, at Toyota, the company experiences cost savings every time a worker prevents a defective car from leaving the plant. Another gain for an organization is improved employee retention. Replacing employees incurs recruiting, hiring and training expenses. Reducing the rate of employee turnover leads to significant cost reductions.
Career Development. You are naturally concerned with the future of your career. It is here that you may realize the greatest advantage of employee empowerment. When the boss delegates decisions to you , it gives you an opportunity to grow your skills and take on greater challenges. You also get the chance to demonstrate that you are ready to take on greater responsibility, and you gain confidence that your achievements will be recognized. Being an empowered employee is ideal when you are seeking promotions and increased compensation.
Taking Advantage of Employee Empowerment
When your supervisor offers you the chance to take part in decision making, take the time to discuss the task or project with her. Make sure you have access to the resources the job requires and the deadline for completion. Be sure you know what outcomes your supervisor expects.
Be honest with yourself and your supervisor about your abilities and limitations. For example, if you think you need more time or some help from co-workers, bring this up. You are much better off raising these issues at the outset than if you wait until the day before the work is due. In addition, stay in touch with your supervisor, and provide updates as requested. Finally, ask for a follow-up meeting once the project is completed. Get his feedback and suggestions for improvement.
Based in Atlanta, Georgia, William Adkins has been writing professionally since 2008. He writes about career, employment and job preparation issues. Adkins holds master's degrees in history and sociology with a focus on employment and labor from Georgia State University. He has conducted research sponsored by the National Science Foundation to develop career opportunities for people with disabilities.
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