Wednesday, June 20, 2007


Employee empowerment is a process whereby: a culture of empowerment is developed; information—in the form of a shared vision, clear goals, boundaries for decision making, and the results of efforts and their impact on the whole—is shared; competency—in the form of training and experience—is developed; resources, or the competency to obtain them when needed to be effective in their jobs, are provided; and support—in the form of mentoring, cultural support, and encouragement of risk-taking—is provided (Kreisberg, 2002).

Every employer uses employee empowerment to some extent, though it is often thought of as delegation. No organization of more than one person can survive without some employee empowerment. When the owner of a business, Etc. hires someone to work the weekends, that person is empowered. When a manager hires an accounting graduate to maintain the departmental ledger, that person is empowered. When the director of advertising chooses which slogan should go on the web banner, that person is empowered. In each of these instances the empowered person has been provided with the training and experience they need to be effective in their position. Each has the information to know how their decisions will impact the larger whole. Each has access to the resources he or she needs to be effective. And the assumption is that each will be supported in the decisions they make (Ciulla, 2004).

Empowerment is a process of becoming, not a task or end result in and of itself. Just as with continuous improvement, no organization is ever done with its empowerment implementation; no person is ever "completely empowered". Empowerment becomes part of the culture of the organization. Empowering others becomes a transparent act, nobody within the organization notices when an act of empowerment is exercised. It may be noticeable in the extreme to outsiders, but, if the implementation effort has been successful, it will be second nature to those acculturated within the organization (Brown, 2000).

Clearly, empowerment is neither quick nor easy, except in the case of a newly formed organization where the leaders understand it and have committed themselves and the organization to it. Given that this is the case it becomes necessary to demonstrate the benefits and provide an implementation strategy which builds upon a clear understanding of all that employee empowerment entails (Weston, 2001).

Today's business environment depends on the "empowered employee." The process of employee empowerment increases the demands on an individual's skills and knowledge, both on an interpersonal and technical level. Empowerment is the process whereby employees are supported and encouraged to fully utilize their skills, abilities and creativity to accept ownership and accountability for their job/project. Empowerment includes supervisors and employees working together to establish clear goals and expectations within agreed-upon boundaries (Korukonda, 2000).

Sitterly (2000) indicated that the empowerment process can be characterized by three stages. Each stage represents an increase in employee control.

Stage 1: For people or teams new to empowerment, their circle of control and influence will be relatively small. In general, activities at this level include:
some control and minor decisions
problem solving consultation on some decisions made in the department

Stage 2: As employee skills, abilities and acceptance of empowerment increase, so does the scope of empowerment. In general, activities at this level include:
significant control and more decision making
problem solving consulted on most decisions made in the department

Stage 3: As a work team matures and performs consistently, significant ownership of the department is taken. The scope of empowerment is at its highest. In general, activities at this level include:
major control over work
significant problem solving
makes most decision in the department


Ciulla, J. B. (Ed.). (2004). Ethics: The heart of leadership. Westport, CT: Praeger

Brown, M.T. (2000). Working ethics: Strategies for decision making and organizational responsibility. Oakland, CA: Regent Press.

Dover, K. (2001). Avoiding empowerment traps. Management Review, 88, 1.

Korukonda, A.P. (2000). Beyond Teams and Empowerment: A Counterpoint to Two Common Precepts in TQM''. S.A.M. Advanced Management Journal, 64, 23- 38.

Kreisberg, S. (2002). Transforming power: Domination, empowerment, and education. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press

Sitterly, C. (2000). Empowering others improves workplace quality. Business Press, 11, 22.

Weston, A. (2001). A 21st century ethical toolbox. New York: Oxford University Press

1 comment:

margaret said...


Empowerment is an important attribute for school organizations in that it helps teachers and other staff members to buy into the school's mission and vision. Empowering teachers through the mechanism of professional learning communities enables teachers to make valuable contributions in decision making, planning and organizing school curriculum and activities.

When teachers and other staff members have a voice, they grow as professionals, they help to tell the school story outside the school walls, as well as help to build safe school climate, and build positive school culture.

Empowered employees help to inculcate new employees to the organizations values and goal,which aids in keeping the successes and other positive elements in place .

Finally, all of this supports in producing students who achieve.

July 13, 2007 7:33 PM