Employee Empowerment is not something that you simply declare you will initiate and expect that the program will be successful. It requires good management programs for it to succeed. This piece purports to show how team building as a management program can be used to make employee empowerment a success.
Employee empowerment should be understood to mean a situation where everyone can take action to enhance his/her work, either in personal or organizational terms, and not just delegation of job authorities to job holders. The essence of employee empowerment is to develop leadership skills (Lashley , 2000).
2.0 Case study
Using an organizational culture framework, this case study examines the critical preconditions necessary for employee empowerment and highlights how the multiple cultures within one public bureaucracy differently impacted their implementation. Serve, a large human service organization, initiated an employee empowerment program that contradicted and thus collided with many elements of its overall organizational culture. Despite the best intentions of the organizational leaders, upper management support, and opportunities for participatory decision making, the organization could not foster the critical preconditions needed for employee empowerment. Leaders had difficulty expanding the employees’ power and promoting member inclusion.
Concurrently, most employees rejected these new opportunities for control and distrusted the leader’s intentions. Yet, despite the widespread rejection of these empowerment initiatives, most employees described their work lives as empowering the piece discusses how a localized empowerment endeavor may be a more appropriate and feasible focus for public bureaucracies seeking to initiate greater staff empowerment. Particular attention is paid to the interaction between individuals and their environments, and how this interaction affects the empowerment process in light to the whole team building exercise.
2.1 Management Program that could be used in addressing the problem
To avoid such instances like the one mentioned above, team building as strategy can be used.
Team building refers to improving team performance by developing team working skills by using any appropriate method. Effective team building and employee motivation fit together. Successful organizations are not involved in team building as an end to itself but rather because with effective team building employee motivation increases and organizational results are achieved. (Cherney, 2002).
3.0 Review of the research
With Adams Associates, enjoyment increased team building effectiveness. Team building is a tool for employee motivation. All teams go through very predictable phases. Knowing and understanding these phases gives leadership the confidence to continue in the team building even when during one of the phases, the employee motivation appears to be declining.
A prime example of utilizing and effectively using the method of team work is through a workshop duly created for the purpose of enhancing skills of the employee, creating a spirit of team building, showing how to address conflict management, teaching problems solving skills and enhancing quality management techniques with team work, there is better understanding of the different leadership styles as well as inclination of and empowerment of employees (.Modern Management, 2003).
Communication also, as one of the most vital and important methods of any relationship has been observed to lead to a truly cohesive and effective means of accomplishing goals of the organization. One of the prime examples practiced by a number of organizations includes a morning chat before commencing actual work. This morning exchange of ideas not only gives impetus to the overall objectives of the organization, they also provide a sense of motivation and empowerment for the numerous tasks and activities that will face the employees during the course of the long working day ahead of them.
Though this morning exchange of ideas and sharing of information may not take long, the little time together provides a sense of responsibility amongst team members and leads the team to bring out new ideas that may assist other team members in their course of their day’s normal routine work. It also allows employees to reinforce ground rules that have already been established by the organization, as well as lead to a truly satisfying and enjoyable working environment.
Another important way of enhancing employee empowerment via team building is through enhancing leadership skills among employees. Good leadership qualities are similar to good parenting. The object is thus to create an environment where employees not only enjoy to utilize their own strengths, but as members of a team also ensure that they become effective and contributing members of the respective organizations.
In case of any changes, the workers must be involved or else they will fight progress (Chien, 2004). In an empowered organization people should not expect to be told what to do but they should know what to do. There is therefore need to support and stimulate the people co-operate to overcome functional barriers and work to eliminate fear within their team (Hand 1994:25).
Research findings concerning self-managed teams have been largely positive. Proponents claim that self-managed work teams are effective because they empower employees to make decisions that affect their lives. Thus these teams radically change the way that employees value and think about jobs. Other benefits associated with self managed teams include greater flexibility to respond to market changes and competitive pressures.
3.1 Companies that have experienced various degrees of success
Let us now see why some companies seem so successful while others do not. Microsoft’s success can be attributed tot heir work place environment, empowerment of employee ideas and their employee benefits. A motivated work force, coupled with a well built team causes a team of motivated people to work towards accomplishing their goals. In order to achieve its goals, Microsoft hires not only graduates who the company believes will contribute by bringing in fresh innovation and ideas for the upcoming generation. After hiring these employees, the company ensures that these employees are always focussed and are giving their full potential in delivery of services.
Eastman Kodak, a company concerned with developing, manufacturing, marketing imaging products and service for consumers has adapted a Kodak and lean cross-dock projects to oversee that the company is successful. Lean cross-docks create an environment of empowerment by enabling any cross-dock employee to top and seek help to fix problems. Employees training encourage empowerment by providing the rationale for why processes are performed in a specified manner. This not only enhances their employee’s understanding of operations but also facilitates operational improvements.
It also practices respect for workers starting with worker safety. Employee safety is particularly critical at cross-dock because of the fast-faced, high volume material flow. Respect for workers is also communicated by seriously considering employee suggestions for improvement and reviewing them in a timely manner (Child et al, 1994).
In pursuing the opportunity, Kodak used the expertise of Tran freight; a lean-dock specialist. The team then developed projects objectives based on thorough discussions with Kodak managers. The objectives included creation of employee-empowered, team oriented in problem solving among others and team building was also at the core of these objectives. This success enabled Kodak to expand the number of plants and supplies involved in the lean cross-dock operation.
With the above two examples, it is evident that team building is crucial for employee empowerment to be a success. For team building to thrive, the executive leadership needs to clearly communicate its expectations for the team performance and expected outcome. The team members should understand why the team was created. The organization on its part needs to demonstrate consistency of purpose in supporting the team with required resources.
The members also ought to understand the context. That is why they are participating on the team. They should understand how the strategy of using teams will help the organization attain its communicated business goals. Over and above all, the members should define their team’s importance to the accomplishment of corporate goals and understand where its work fits in the total context of the organization goals, principles and visions.
For good team building, the members need to have the desire to participate in the team. The feeling that team mission is important should be entrenched in each and every one of them. They should perceive that service as valuable to the organization and to their own career, anticipate recognition for their contributions and expect their skills to grow and develop on the team.
The management also needs to enhance clarity about the priority of the tasks of the team members. The organization is required to provide business information regularly. The team members also need to communicate clearly and honestly with each other and bring diverse opinions to the table as ways of addressing necessary arising conflicts. If these suggestions are not adhered to employee empowerment in an organization is doomed to fail. These are however not the only reason why employee empowerment fails. Other reasons are explained herein.
Firstly, there is lack of a clear definition of empowerment by managers. Managers need to clarify such issues as what decisions can be made in their absence by the employees, without their permission or oversight.
Secondly, the top management sometimes defines the decision making authority and boundaries with staff but then micromanage the work of employees. This is majorly because the managers do not trust the staff to make good decisions. If the staff members know this, they will craftily make decisions on their own and hide the results or come to the manager for everything because they do not know what they really can control (Bateman & Snell, 1999).
Sometimes, managers abdicate all responsibility and accountability for decision making when reporting staff for instance is blamed or punished for failures, mistake and less optimum results, they flee from empowerment. This failure to publicly support decisions and stand behind the employees makes them feel deserted. As a company’s resource therefore, employees need to be organized forcefully enough to achieve the objectives. A critical feature of successful teams is that they are invested with a significant degree of empowerment or decision making authority.
Equally important, employee empowerment changes the manager’s mindset and leaves them with more time to engage in broad based thinking, visioning and nurturing. This intelligent and production division of duties between visionary leaders, focusing on emerging opportunities and empowered employees, running the business until day to day provides for a well managed enterprise with strong growth potential.
To sum it all up, there are a few things that need to be done for successful employee empowerment as relates to team building. The top management needs to realize that its behaviour must change too. They should not expect employees to confidently begin solving problems and making improvements unless they see that the executive group will support it and do it themselves. Infact, employees will not even bother trying unless they see evidence that top people mean it (Zoglio, 1997).
A clear goal needs to be set since groups of employees with no experience working together on business issues will not know where to start. Focus should be on the real work effort. Remember, empowerment works best when employees have an important compelling business-related goal such as saving the company from bankruptcy, being the low cost, high quality leader in their field.
For employee empowerment to be a success therefore in any organization, team building is a critical component. This is because it will ensure commitment which is the foundation for synergy in groups, contribution, effective communication, and co-operation and will also deal effectively with conflict management.