Empowerment , Planning and Steps for Success
Thanks for your return with us to this powerful topic. Our interest in writing this brief series on empowerment has been to help you understand how to get started and achieve success with an empowerment strategy.
As mentioned last time, many have tried empowerment, but not so many have succeeded. Here we will provide you with a sketch of key parts of preparation for successful empowerment. These are offered as a result of our actual experiences, first as corporate leaders/managers, and then second as consultants who have supported many organizations on their empowerment journeys.
Training is essential for both leaders and your people/teams – those doing the empowering and those receiving empowerment.
Recall that empowerment is a transition of power (authority). It is a relationship with a minimum of two parties – those releasing power and those assuming power. Both need adequate preparation and guidance. Do not leave this to chance or you open the door to misunderstanding and problems, even resentments, about the process of empowerment you are trying to implement.
Leaders Of the two parties, leadership can be the more difficult area of preparation, especially front line leadership. It can be viewed as a loss, both of position and control. Supervisors and managers can even perceive empowerment as a threat to their future unless you prepare them with training and vision regarding the expected future.
Their training should illuminate several important areas:
- The process steps of empowerment
- What is in it for them, the supervisors and managers
- Leadership flexibility that will be required in the journey
- Training they must provide to their people and teams
People and Teams This typically is a very positive area of training, as there will exist a natural interest and desire to learn and advance in authority. Your people and teams should desire this if it is well presented in a context that illuminates the vital future role and impact of empowerment for them and the organization.
Note – there can be resistance in certain circumstances:
Resistance can be rallied by outside influences such as negative union pressures. (If there is a history of healthy management-union relations, then the union can be a positive part of the implementation. If the history is not so positive, then special steps of relationship building with the union may be essential.)
Company past practice of implementation exercises (past programming that has been perceived as “flavors of the month” – processes implemented without follow through and support for success. If your organization is perceived in this light, special steps of preparation may be required to illuminate this plan for empowerment as a process that will be supported and accompanied with follow up and follow through.
Focus on the mission of the business
All of the preparation and training should contain a clear connection with the business mission so that everyone, both managers and employees/teams see the clear business purpose behind the move to empowerment. You want it to be clear that you are not empowering just to be changing for the sake of change. You are empowering to improve and increase business outcomes of the enterprise. Help everyone see the connection between the health of the business and their individual well being.
Build in accountability
Our last post focused on the empowerment trap of “entitlement.” The best strategy to avoid this serious trap is to build in accountability for results. Without improvement in businessresults, there is no increase in empowerment. You need to do this as you set expectations throughout the steps of your empowerment implementation process, starting with the initial training.
You must prepare, both leaders and teams, for the ebb and flow of business that will dictate changing dynamics within the context of an empowered organization. You must address up front that things change from time to time that can require more or less levels of management attention. If this is fully understood up front, you will avoid later negative perceptions that your empowerment program has been yet another management “program of the month.” Handled correctly, your teams and people will be proactively looking for additional management involvement and support during the trying times. Here are some examples:
- Business changes – new product and service launches require increased support and activity from the ranks of management
- Marketplace changes – leaders have important perspectives and experience form more global views of the marketplace and must be engaged as the dynamics with customers change
- System changes – from time to time new business systems & processes may be implemented. Your people and teams should recognize that increased levels of management direction are essential to successful implementations of these changes.
- Economy ups & downs – performance by your people and teams can be influenced heavily at times b factors outside of the control of the teams. Management connection becomes critical during these times.
The point of these examples is this; empowerment is not a fixed process. It needs to be dynamic and responsive to the challenges and demands of the marketplace in which you compete. Prepare both your leaders and teams for this reality and you will be setting the stage for a powerful and successful empowerment experience. The focus will be where it should be – the mission success of the business.
Many thanks for your interest,
& best wishes for your empowerment journey,