Empowerment has been a buzzword in contemporary
leadership for more than a decade. Many feel it means
giving an employee or team the autonomy for making a
decision. Yet giving responsibility for decision making
without fully training a team on the goals, objectives, and
other material and needed education resources is known as
“slimpowerment”. It is empowerment that slims down morale
and negatively impacts the bottom-line.
This misconception dates back to the early days of
empowerment at General Motors. As the automaker was
searching to harness the experience of local workers and
their daily working knowledge of their specific job,
“empowerment” was used to signify the new freedom they
would have in making decisions.
“That was just another failed program,” said one UAW
worker at one of GM’s Warren facilities. “They would get
these warm and fuzzy programs and think everything was
going to turn around.”
True empowerment means providing the education and
resources to make correct decisions. At the same plant a
new Global Management System (GMS) program was
introduced in the last decade. In GMS employees are
working as teams with the power to make decisions that will
impact the bottom line.
Nobody knows the nuances of a job better than the person
doing it every day. Once they are provided with the
organizational goals and resources they need they are able
to attain the goals quicker and more consistently through
Without knowing the measurement of success and having
the mental and physical resources to achieve triumph, the
team has not been empowered, it has been slimpowered.
Use this term for developing skills in these areas:
A Bizerm™ is a new business term combining two
descriptive words into a single word or phrase whose
definition is often only known by those using it. To
see more terminology in the workplace, click here.
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