Empowerment

Empowerment is first a personal strategy to improve. We cannot empower others until we are empowered. We empower ourselves to the extent that we take advantage of the process of ensuring that all employees, and particularly those close to the customer, have the flexibility and support to meet customer needs and expectations. This process is designed to open up the creative and innovative potential of the organization, and to put everyone to work thinking through their jobs in relation to customer needs. But what does it mean to each member of an organization when the organization communicates the message, "Since quality is the job of every employee, you are now empowered to carry it out." It sounds simple, and, of course, it assumes that each member of the organization seeks out and can handle the "handoff' of responsibility, authority, and resources that goes with empowerment. And it assumes the support is there to make it happen.

To the individual member of a customer-driven organization, the empowerment process can be a vexing problem. This is because it is not clear that the stated benefits of empowerment, improved quality of work life, professional and personal development, rewards and recognition, new opportunities to assume new jobs and roles, and increased latitude in decision making are really all so "beneficial" in practice. The following sections explore each and show how the individual can ensure an appropriate personal response in a project team environment.

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