Empowerment LO6380

Donald W. Denier (ddz@srv.net)
Tue, 2 Apr 1996 21:06:42 -0700

I have been reading the discussion here and am moved to jump in.
Several years ago while serving as an internal consultant on TQM I was
constantly faced with the criticism of our company as being hypocritical
when it came to empowerment. It came to me that there was no clear
understanding of empowement as it related to business relationships. For
my own purposes, I pulled to gether this definition that I have used
since. We have fewer critics of empowerment and more people working
toward that condition.

This is offered for comment and use as anyone sees fit. This was
developed in my role as an employee of a contractor to the US Department
of Energy. As such it is in the public domain. Be advised that the Covey,
Bennis/Nanus material that form the basis of my piece are copyrighted.

For your review:


The Definition of Empowerment

Empowerment is a tool that leaders use to extend their
effectiveness to all levels in an organization. Two books on leadership
have given insight into achieving empowerment. Stephen Covey describes
five elements of empowerment when discussing "stewardship delegation."
Warren Bennis and Burt Nanus describe the environment of empowerment.
Empowerment consists of clearly defined: (Note 1)

Objectives, the results that are desired are clearly defined; the
product, quantity, quality, cost, and schedule.

Ground rules, the guidelines define the principles, policies,
procedures, and limits that are to be complied with. They also identify
"sacred cows" in the form of accepted customs, traditions, or "the old
man's whims" that need to be respected in the process.

Resources, the assets at their disposal. Among these are funding,
people, materials, facilities, and equipment. Make clear the limits and
how to obtain what is needed. Also, make clear the resources that are NOT
available - no surprises.

Accountability, the person(s) to whom they are accountable and in
what ways. Update meetings, formal or informal status and progress
reports, and periodic reviews.

Consequences, the rewards or penalties for the individual, the
organization, and the company; both financial and psychic; associated with
success or failure in meeting the objective.

. . . then let the people determine the best methods and means within
given guidelines to accomplish the task.

Given these elements, empowerment does not just "happen." The
above seeds of empowerment need to be cast upon fertile soil. The best
environment has identifiable characteristics. Among them are: (Note 2)

Significance. Knowing that what is being worked on is important,
where it fits into the overall plan. This is the sharing of the vision, .
. . you are not cutting stone, you are building a cathedral.

Competence. Developing and learning as part of the task. This is
more "the development of the person" rather than "the possession of skills
and abilities." Given a vote of confidence, encouragement, and freedom;
working together, the team will achieve far greater accomplishments than
any of them dreamed possible.

Community. Evolving teamwork and trust. Not necessarily "liking"
each other, but a sense of professional respect and reliance on one
another toward a common cause.

Fun. Enjoying the quest. Through empowerment, people seem to get
immersed in their game of work. They often forget what are considered to
be basic needs for long periods of time.

Based on this environment, empowerment enriches not only the
quality of work life but life itself.

1. The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, Dr. Stephen R. Covey,
Simon and Schuster, 1989
2. Leaders, the Strategies for Taking Charge, Warren Bennis and Burt
Nanus, Harper and Row, 1985

Don Denier 208 529-1686
804 Hansen Avenue ddz@srv.net
Idaho Falls, ID 83402


ddz@srv.net (Donald W. Denier)

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