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'Empowerment supports organisational objectives at the expense of the individual worker'.

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

Introduction Companies today are designed in someway, at some level, to develop individuals either for their own sake, the company's sake or hopefully for both. The team has become a sophisticated structure. I t is 'finely engineered, maintained to a high standard, and when running smoothly it is highly productive' (Cole, G, A, 1997: 63). It provides an environment in which energy can be maximised towards corporate needs, which also allows the individual to satisfy his or her own needs within work, rather than only outside of it. So often seemingly dull unimaginative and uncreative employees surprise their companies when they reveal the depth of their energy outside work. However it is the 'corporate attitudes' (Legge, K, 1995: 104) that stifled them, and when released companies recognise they have a pool talent, a wealth of resources, at their fingertips. Empowerment has been in the 'forefront of quality improvement efforts' (Cole, G, A, 1997: 23). Several businesses worldwide have been and still are currently closely watching quality the ability to produce superior and distinguished goods and services to meet customer needs. The commitment to quality today is very present in 'service industries, non-profit organizations, government agencies, and educational institutions' (Mabey at el, 1998: 48). Total Quality, also known as Total Quality Management (TQM), is seen differently by different people. Empowerment has been defined in different ways. Some have claimed it is 'a fundamentally different way of working together' (Spencer & Pruss, 1992: 271) and 'quite different from the traditional notion of control' (Cole, G, A, 1997: 94). Cole (1997) is able to define the concept of empowerment as an application to 'none managerial roles' such as team members. However, he argues there are several possible meanings. These can range from having 'increased authority' (Cole, G, A, 1997: 53) and therefore their ability exercise a wider range of choices at work and to be given a more varied and interesting job in the form of job enrichment. ...read more.

Middle

It has been portrayed as the ultimate tool to access unleashed potential and help leaders get the best from their people. In reality, however, organisations that are trying to empower people may be fighting an uphill battle. Managers who harbour a fear that affirmative action may jeopardise their jobs, may be more worried about keeping their jobs than about empowering others. According to Maslow (1998), people need a sense of 'self-determination, autonomy, dignity, and responsibility' (Legge, K, 1995: 221) to continue to function in a healthy, growth-motivated way. When placed in an environment where any or all of these qualities are removed from them and they are instead 'forced to submit to another's will and think and act under constant supervision' (Legge, K, 1995: 221), their sense of esteem and self-worth is robbed from them. The implementation of empowerment can be used successfully as a HRM tool as it provides a competitive advantage ensuring 'organisational survival' (Mabey & Salaman, 1997:25) and at the same time protecting employees jobs. However, employee's maybe compelled to work harder and more flexibly 'for their own good' (Mabey & Salaman, 1997:25) otherwise they might be made redundant for the greater good. The aim of empowerment is to 'enable employees to actually have to deal with problems to implement solutions quickly and without recourse to supervisors' (Gennard & Judge, 1997: 71) and or higher levels of management. This is increasingly necessary as large and bureaucratic organisations 'delayer' (Beardwell & Holden, 1994: 91) management hierarchies in the search for administrative efficiency and lower costs. Employee empowerment is a very important aspect when considering human resource management. The failure of employers to give employees an opportunity to participate in decisions affecting their welfare 'may encourage union member ship' (sparrow & Marchington, 1998: 53). It is widely believed that one reason managers begin employee involvement programs and seek to empower their employees is to 'avoid collective action by employees' (Cole, G, A, 1997: 83). ...read more.

Conclusion

The business ethic which condemns failure as a bad thing is going to 'restrict its best people' (Beardwell & Holden, 1994: 12), force them to avoid taking risks that may one day be beneficial and will prevent the team experiencing the excitement of the empowerment which is vital to motivation and team dynamics. The advantages gained through empowerment are numerous. Employee empowerment allows an organization to unleash the vital, untapped forces of employee creativity and motivation to solve business problems (Legge, K, 1995: 50). Empowering employee also allows them to make decisions on the spot. This is very important when you work in an industry where you work directly with a paying customer. When employees are empowered, the employer enables them to offer full service to their clients and protect them from the competition. 'The rewards of empowerment outweigh the risks of losing the employees themselves' (Spencer & Pruss, 1992: 203). The retail industry is a perfect example. Managers are 'learning to give up control' and employees are learning how to be responsible for the actions and decisions (Cole, G, A, 1997: 34). It is fundamental that management shares information, creates autonomy and feedback, and trains and creates self-directed teams for empowerment to work properly. Managers often prefer not to 'communicate with employees, and not to share some extremely important information' (Beardwell & Holden, 1994: 247) with them, but an effective leader must have no hidden agendas. They must treat employees as 'stakeholders for the road of success' (Beardwell & Holden, 1994: 247). Employees must have a clear vision of success, because if they are not aware of what success means to the company and where the company is heading, there is no way they can feel empowered to help accomplish this success. 'Empowerment is not something, which can be passed over from management to employees as a pen is handed from one person to another. It is a complex process, which requires a clear vision, a learning environment both for management and employees, and participation and implementation tools and techniques in order to be successful' (Erstad, M, 1997). ...read more.

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