Financial and competitive data

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To tell if a workforce is empowered, the crucial indicators are the way the employees interact with customers, managers and each other. Typical behaviours among employees that are evident within empowered workforces include the following. 1. They show an awareness of the goals and strategy of the organisation. They take an interest beyond their functional speciality, paying attention to company publications, press reports, and financial and competitive data. They discuss their work in terms of how it fits into the company’s overall vision.

They take personal responsibility for the outcomes of their work, showing by their behaviour that they feel responsible for the results of what they do. 3. They continually monitor their own performance, looking for indications of quality and showing a concern for how they are doing on all performance without being asked to do so. 4. They seek additional resources when they do not have what they need to perform well. 5. They take initiatives to help people in other areas to improve their performance. Of course there are cons to empowering your team or workforce, some of these disadvantages are:

Potential for chaos Lack of clarity  Breakdown of hierarchical control Demoralisation In conclusion, the concept of ’empowerment’ brings more human aspects into picture, which follows what is called the ‘democratic Taylorism’ model. Instead of Taylorism, these new methods and standards are determined by work teams themselves: workers are taught how to time their own jobs with a stopwatch, compare alternative procedures to determine the most effective one, document the standard procedure to ensure that everyone can understand and implement it, and identify and propose improvements in that procedure.

At any given time, the task of standardised work analysis might be delegated to a team leader or a team member, but everyone understands the analysis process and can participate in it. K. Grahame Walker, as quoted in Industry Week (Nov. 18,1991), says he advocated doing away with the term empowerment in favour of another word – participation, contribution, involvement, or responsibility. Why? Because Walker says, some employees define empowerment as doing what they want, when, how, why, and if they want.

However, what I have seen in reality is that employee empowerment is a fake. People are told that they have power and responsibility, but in fact, in most of the decisions they are dependent on their boss, which eventually lowers morale, erodes leadership credibility, and creates hostility and opposition. The underpinning argument is that today we constantly talk about downsizing, de-layering, rightsizing, flattening, business process re-engineering as cost saving devises but with our existing hierarchical and bureaucratic system, are we really achieving our cost saving targets.

I feel that with the introduction of the above mentioned buzzwords in our today’s business strategy we are not doing any justification to our customers who keep complaining about the service standards due to the shortage of, and inadequately empowered staff, which hinders effective performance in a world characterised by perpetual novelty and change. Only the true application of the principles of employee empowerment can enable businesses to cope with the new environment.

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