Myth of empowering


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 true empowerment.

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 slim-powered.

© 2009 Max Impact Corporation