Personal Stories

Employee Empowerment

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Written Spring 2014

Employee empowerment is giving employees the opportunity to suggest or be a part of the decision process regarding company operations rather than the employer (Boss) telling someone what to do, how to do it, etc.  (Hamlin n.d.) The information flow from the company to the employees can be what levels of the operation are doing well statistically or financially. Also, what are the areas of opportunities that need to be reviewed or changed for better execution?

JIT (Just in time) and Lean practices are key business models for employee engagement.  What we are discussing here ties in with the employee engagement discussion.  Businesses who use this model are inspired by the Toyota Corporation to rid the company of waste, re-work (doing the same type of work at different levels of management with no decent results or just multiplication), improve employee engagement and increasing profitability.  (McCubbrey 2009)

Some of the aspects of JIT/Lean that fits in this discussion are:

Employees are empowered to take action to correct problems.

Employees are responsible for understanding the quality measures of their work and what they need to do to meet the needs of internal/external customers.

Employees work together in problem-solving teams to gather data and build a consensus on how to improve work processes. (McCubbrey 2009)

These steps can motivate and help an employee’s self-esteem. However, one issue that comes to mind when empowering employees in the decision making process is ensuring that they have the skills and knowledge to make logical decisions.  The individual would need to have an “understanding of, and overall agreement with, goals of the business” and have had “previous involvement in decision making.”  (Billikopf n.d.) If the employee doesn’t have the understanding of a key operational issue, they should not be involved in a process until it that individual has a clear understanding.  Also, if there is a time crunch where a key decision needs to be made which would have large implications for a company that would not be the time to do an employee forum on making such a decision.

References:

Billikopf, Gregorio. <i>Empowerment and Delegation, University of California. http://www.cnr.berkeley.edu/ucce50/ag-labor/7labor/10.htm (accessed January 23, 2013).

Hamlin, K. Small Business Chronicle. http://smallbusiness.chron.com/pro-cons-empowerment-organization-13397.html (accessed January 23, 2013).

McCubbrey, D.J. “Business Fundamentals.” 178-179. Create Space, 2009.

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