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Empowerment in Management: Definition & Explanation

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  • 0:00 What Is Empowerment?
  • 0:34 How to Empower Employees
  • 1:55 Results of Empowerment
  • 2:25 Challenges of Empowerment
  • 3:40 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Carol Woods

Carol has taught college Finance, Accounting, Management and Business courses and has a MBA in Finance.

Empowerment is a management concept that can result in higher productivity and job satisfaction in your organization. But, what does it really involve, and how do you implement it? Watch this lesson to find out.

What Is Empowerment?

Empowerment is the concept in management that if employees are given information, resources, and opportunity at the same time as being held responsible for their job outcomes, then they will be more productive and have higher job satisfaction. It is important to understand that a company cannot implement empowerment itself - instead, management creates the right environment so that empowerment can take place.

So how does a manager set up this kind of environment where employees feel empowered?

How to Empower Employees

Let's look at this process, through the example of a company called Widget Co. Widget Co.'s manager would first begin his project with the goal of creating empowered employees would start by determining what resources employees need in order to make good decisions about their own work. When doing this, he would take into consideration the company's vision and mission and the organizational and departmental goals.

He would need to be sure to understand the work other departments do and have access to financial and operational reports for the company. He'd benefit from a clear understanding of company processes and what happens to the company's work once it's completed. He would finally need to determine if there's any necessary skills training to help employees better understand their work and perform better. And to make sure employees have clear expectations about what they need to accomplish.

Once employees have the information and skills they need, Widget Co.'s manager would give them some amount of decision-making responsibility. The reason for this is that along with the ability to make decisions, comes accountability for their results. The underlying idea is that employees are in a unique position to determine the best way to produce their work outcomes.

With this additional responsibility in place, the role of Widget Co.'s manager changes to more of a coaching role - he should help employees make good decisions, discuss the outcomes of decisions with them, and help coordinate employees among multiple groups.

Results of Empowerment

As a result of empowering his employees, Widget Co.'s manager sees cost improvements, employee satisfaction, and accountability. Since employees are given the opportunity to define how they produce their work, this can result in improved methods in procedures, resulting in lower costs. Furthermore, employees who have a sense of control over their work, tend to have higher morale and job satisfaction. Lastly, since employees are expected to be accountable for their results, it is clear who to point to if actions aren't completed as expected.

Challenges of Empowerment:

Empowerment sounds good and all, but there are potential challenges as well.

First, employees may make decisions that don't consider all other factors in the organization, and this can ultimately cause chaos by requiring changes from others. Employees may not have the knowledge and experience needed to properly evaluate their impact on other departments when they make a change. Widget Co.'s manager will need to ensure employees are prepared for this additional responsibility and train them as needed.

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