Empowerment is not just giving power to do things but also to enable them to make decisions. It is a management strategy for sharing the decision making process. It is very important for an organization to have clear cut guidelines so that managers know when they can empower their employees and when it is not advisable to do so.
Some scenarios where empowerment can be helpful are listed as follows:
The environment is uncertain: In some sectors, employees may be working away from the head office on the field in very dynamic situations. They may face unexpected situations which warrant immediate action. In such a scenario, they cannot wait for approvals from higher-ups and need to take decisions spontaneously. If these employees are not given the authority to take decisions, it might affect the business or lead to other damages.
Close supervision is not viable: In some situations, it is not possible for managers to closely supervise all members of the team. For example, if the field office is located far away, you need to employ a manager to oversee the operations at the field office as it would not be physically possible for you to do so from the head office.
Employees need motivation: Empowering employees is one way of motivating them to grow by taking up higher responsibilities. It also helps in their personal development.
Innovation is critical: Sometimes, organizations need to have diversity in management as it might lead to the generation of innovative ideas which can be used for the benefit of the organization.
However, you need to be cautious when empowering employees under the following circumstances:
- When individual errors would prove to be too costly for the organization
- When employees are not yet trained and ready to accept higher responsibilities
- When the culture of organization does not support the idea of empowerment
Empowerment, if used judiciously can be a useful tool to encourage employees to make decisions on their own and contribute in a valuable way to organizational growth.