Quotes from pamphlet:
“Empowerment involves trust at the managerial level; a leader must be able to trust that his/her employees have the skills and character to get the job done.
Empowerment is ‘Giving employees the freedom to make decisions and providing the necessary support to allow them to succeed,’ according to Covey.
Covey describes the six conditions of empowerment:
- Skills: What a person can do.
- Character: What a person is. These first two conditions are really ‘pre-conditions’ of empowerment. They are required to establish the next four conditions.
- Win-Win Agreement: This is a ‘psychological contract’ between the manager and employees. It involves specifying the desired results, setting guidelines, identifying resources, defining accountability, and determining consequences.
- Self-Supervision: With the ‘what’ established in the win-win agreement the employee is given the freedom to determine ‘how’ to achieve the desired results.
- Helpful Structure and Systems: Management creates helpful structures and systems to support the efforts of the employees.
- Accountability: Employees evaluate themselves against the established agreement.
Leadership Behaviors Associated with Empowerment
- Communicates clearly the expectations of a task and gives the employee the freedom and support needed to succeed. Expectation without the freedom to act is supervision, not empowerment. An expectation without support is dumping.
- Becomes a source of help to employees in meeting their expectation by asking, ‘What are you trying to accomplish, and how can I help you?’
- Allows employees to ‘supervise themselves’ within the framework of the expectations that have been established.”
This is one of the most frustrating concepts of Empowerment that managers rarely get a grasp of. The following experience establishes the point:
This company built a new building to replace one that was too small, for a growing support staff. New equipment was ordered and put in place, and I drove to the site to see the results.
One of the support staff was working in the office at the time and we started up a conversation. He was telling me about his new desk, and in doing so, I noticed there weren’t any drawers in this “desk”, which was actually a table. So I asked where he kept his office supplies (pencils, paper, and other personal items). He leaned over and pulled a cardboard box from under his “desk” and opened it, then said, “here”. I was flabbergasted, and responded with, “you are kidding me. A new building was built, equipped, and you have a cardboard box for drawer”? Then I walked over to his supervisor’s office, closed the door, and proceeded to explain how degrading that was for his employee. The response, as usual, was that there wasn’t enough money, the department manager’s style of supervision, and other attempts to “point fingers”. My response was, “to hell with those excuses, and find someway to correct the insult”.
This example of mistreatment of employees to “supposedly” save dollars had the opposite effect. The consequences are unmotivated, disgruntled employees who effect business and individual success in a negative way.
Empowerment as defined: “make (someone) stronger and more confident”, affects the human condition in so many ways.
Next: Leadership Behavior Model
Six Leadership Qualities