Organizations are about people. People are the most valuable asset that an organization can possess to create success. The development of these people and the ability for an organization to retain talent can be complex. An organization must be organized to communicate and provide the structure necessary for growth and development. They must also have the people within the organization understand their ability to grow and the directions available within the organization for growth. In the industrial age a company was primarily there to provide goods and serves. Many organizational behaviorists at that time focused on getting the most production from the employee. The employee was looked at as a necessary evil in creating the goods for market.
We have now realized that people are the foundation that can make or break an organization. The thoughts and actions of the company and the employee are imperative to their success. Retaining top talent is about creating a structure that is conducive to growth and development. Empowerment is important on an organizational level and an individual level. When looking at the dynamics of an organizations empowerment it is essential to recognize the symptoms of disempowerment. Gershon and Straub identified ten symptoms of a disempowered organization. We will look at one case within an organization and four of these symptoms that were evident and describe these dysfunctions. We will then create a plan using Gershon and Straub six values to create an empowering environment.
Four Symptoms of Disempowerment
Distrust and Cynicism
When individuals feel that they must constantly compete for their future a sense of distrust begins to arise. In the case study this organization had weak leaders that did not give others a sense of team involvement. There was constant distrust in coworkers and in management to make the right decisions. Due to the lack of leadership employees felt the need to compete through criticizing and creating blame. Management did not give true direction or provide any plan of action but instead were quick to criticize the actions individuals took in order to compete tasks without direction. Apathy and Burnout
The organization in the case study was constantly in a state of change. New projects can be exhausting in themselves. When a project goes beyond the original plan many times companies will use the resources they have and overwork the employee in order to reach plan. This can create burnout and apathy within the workforce. This was the case with this organization, instead of bringing in additional contact workers to assist the company expected employees to work overtime to meet goals. This would involve as many as eighty hours per week. The result was burnout and exhaustion and a general sense of being unappreciated. The personal life of the employees was expected to be put on hold and this creating a general sense of apathy within the workforce.
Gossip and back biting poisoning work environment
Many times people are the reflection of the environment that they are surrounded by. There is a saying about how weak people talk about other people; this was the case in this organization. Gossip was common place and a reflection of the emotional turmoil of not being able to move within the organization. Management did not stop the personal conflict that was created within many of the groups by gossip and “back stabbing”.
Top talent leaving for better opportunities or work environment
Due to the inability to move within the organization and the general atmosphere of distrust and dissatisfaction many of the top talent moved on to better opportunities. The organization was a revolving door and the issue was that the positions available were not backfilled with internal, local talent but instead more “new” employees were brought in to replace the talent that let the organization. This further fueled the discord and ill feeling of the current workforce.
Six Values Applied to Disempowerment
Change in anything that we do must first come from the inside before we can change the outside. A great example of this is in losing weight many people choose to go on a quick fix diet plan. This is a wonderful way to reduce the weight in the short term but the person eventually returns to their previous weight. Change must come from the inside through long term changes in the way that they think about food and the long term change in diet. When an organization has the symptoms of disempowerment it is not just from the inability of the individuals internally but from a dysfunctional mindset within the organization. Therefore the organization must perform a metamorphose to change the structure of the company and the mindset of the individuals and management. There are six values that are an essential part of the framework necessary for change within an organization.
These six values are self-responsibility, authentic communication, trust, learning and growing, interpersonal process skills and caring. When looking at an organizational level of self-responsibility the empowering organization has individuals that take responsibility for their jobs, team and organization being the way that they need it to be. This is the opposite of the mindset of victimization and an understanding that changes comes from each individual within an organization. If an organization promotes authentic communication it is obvious through observing the individuals and their communication. If the communication is open, transparent, honest and vulnerable then the company is communicating authentically. When observing trust within an organization the first thing that needs to be evident is the ability for individuals to feel safe within the environment. This trust is apparent in the ability of individuals to take risks and tryout new behaviors without risk of reprimand from supervisors.
When an organization promotes an environment conducive to growth and learning individuals are challenged to recognize their weaknesses and given the opportunity to learn and develop these skills. The growth and encouragement is transferable to both the employee and the organizational growth. Learning is on a bilateral level through growth of both the structure and the individual. An empowered organization understands individuals as independent and of their own mindset. They champaign the individual and have created process and protocols to resolve personal issues that may arise.
The organization is high functioning within their relationships internally and support teamwork and individualism equally. There is a general sense of caring within an empowered organization. Leadership demonstrates genuine caring of the individuals that work within the company. Individuals feel valued and inspired creating motivation to do their best. The Plan
To develop these skills within an organization that is lacking these basic values can be challenging. The plan must start with leadership and management having a full grasp of the qualities that create an empowered organization. The first step is to educate management in the skills necessary to create this environment. This cannot be done with a week-long workshop but with concrete training and development over the long-term. Honing and developing the skills on a weekly, monthly and yearly basis. Removing the “boss barrier” is an essential part of creating an environment for growth and productivity. The second step is to remove the “system” barrier. Looking at the process and the policies the current organization and recreating an environment that gives employees the opportunity to develop. Realigning the reward systems and identifying the blocks that disempower change within the organization is essential.
The third aspect is to remove the barriers of the mind. This is important in empower both the leadership and the employee. People have a way of thinking about things until you give them the opportunity and the tools to look at things differently. You are basically what you think you are and it takes reconditioning the minds of the individuals within an organization to change. Change happens from within. It is the willingness of the organization to change and the individuals to change that will make a move towards empowerment possible. Motivation to change must be driven by emotions and the key is to find these emotional triggers and create a plan towards growth and opportunity for both the organization and the individual.
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