Published on August 01, 2022
The increased awareness of social consciousness and wellbeing saw the meaning of empowerment change gradually. Nowadays, empowerment is not only a concept associated with groups seen as being discriminated against or marginalized but also a concept associated with each one of us, personally and professionally.
Equally, among organizations, empowerment is getting more appreciation these days. In the news and social media, we see new concepts rising, such as empowered customers, empowered employees, empowered leadership, and empowered marketing.
But what is exactly the importance of empowerment for organizations?
And, if significant, how can we empower organizations?
Why is empowerment important for organizations?
Empowering means that people are given opportunities to control their own destiny and influence the decisions that affect their lives, seeing a closer correspondence between their goals and a sense of how to achieve them.
At the 3rd Global Conference on Business and Social Science, scientist Jalal Hanaysha and Putri Tahir presented their work on organizational empowerment. Their findings support the fact that, for any business, empowerment is important for successful achievement, productivity and growth. Different scientific evidence shows that empowered employees develop positive thinking and tend to do their best to perform well at the workplace, improving their motivation to do routine work, increasing their job satisfaction, enhancing their loyalty and productivity, and reducing turnover intentions.
The basis of empowerment is…relationships
Guy Winch states that “popular culture often misrepresents the concept of personal empowerment by placing emphasis on attaining a subjective emotion in which one feels empowered. However, empowerment by its very definition requires increasing our actual influence within our social sphere, whether we do so within our intimate relationships our larger social context, as citizens or as consumers.”
Empowerment is about gaining power. And an increase in power is an increase in one’s influence in social relations. However, differently from power, empowerment is considered a transformative power, being exercised collectively through organizations and communities.
But it can go wrong!
Empowerment can also backfire if not taken with a clear direction. An article published at the Small Business Chron, states that positive empowerment can turn negative for different reasons: employees may not be ready to handle increase in responsibility; their arrogance may increase and lead to abuse of power and insubordination; decisions can cease to be uniform, leading to a lack of coordination; and boundaries of authority become blurred and can be broken.
To create positive empowerment, employees need proper training and a set of guidelines to create guidance, vision and values. Steps to control potential drawbacks include to know who you can empower, looking for traits that are critical to success; develop a plan in order to build leadership skillset; a close monitorizations to look for signs of negative empowerment such as arrogance and abuse of power; and be a strong role-model, personifying the key principles of a transformational leader.
Some great examples.
SquareSpace is a successful startup from New York, that is regularly classified as one of the best places to work. They have a flat, open and creative culture that empowers their employees through very few levels of management between staff and executives and through robust benefits and perks, including 100% coverage of health insurance premiums, flexible vacations, and attractive office space.
An article published at Bright Hub, lists a set of companies that use empowerment as a strategy to be positioned ahead of their competitors. One of these companies is Xerox, that provides a “line of sight" training to employees to make them realize how their role fits into upstream and downstream activities” and “undertakes surveys on employees and customers to determine the state of empowerment achieved”. This initiative helped Xerox “maintain its position as a $15.7 billion leader in document technology business for close to 100 years”.
6 easy steps to empower your organization
High-performing organizations excel in providing "open, supportive cultures that encourage new ideas and empower staff."
But, practically speaking, how can we empower organizations?
Andrew Peterson and Marc Zimmerman, published in the American Journal of Community Psychology, the fundamental processes to achieve organizational empowerment. Here we present four of these processes.
1. Incentive management
Facilitate member participation by providing incentives, such as opportunities to socialize with neighbours, learn new skills, and gain information.
2. Subgroup linkage
Create connections between different internal social units of an organization. This enables cooperation, being vital to goal achievement.
Empowered leaders are individuals interpersonally and organizationally talented, committed and dedicated, supporting and responding well to group members. They provide vision, motivation, and inspiration.
4. Social support system
This refers to organizational opportunities for members to provide and receive emotional and other resources needed to cope with challenges.
How can our VIBE technology help you?
- - With instant feedback. This is important to communicate workflow and allow your colleagues to comment on their concerns. In this way, you can take quick action.
- - The feedback will help you present new challenges and opportunities. Challenges are important for employees to demonstrate and achieve their full potential.
- - Listen to your collegues in real time. You can use VIBE to ask about their progress, accomplishments, and complains. Beyond talking business, you may also connect with employees on a personal level, so they know that you care about them.