veryard projects - innovation for demanding change

People and Change - Enabling, Encouraging & Empowering

veryard projects > change management > e3
Encouraging Enabling Empowering
Empowerment means that people (typically employees) are granted a level of authority over their work or other aspects of their lives.
How can/should people be motivated to deliver excellence in products and services, and to strive for continual process improvement? What rewards are appropriate?
  • Material rewards such as a one-off bonus or salary increase
  • Career rewards such as promotion or a special assignment that enhances the CV. Some forms of training - especially those that prepare the individual for future responsibilities - can also be included here.
  • Intangible rewards such as a special award or public praise.

  • Collective rewards, such as a team party.
What resources and support are required to enable staff to participate actively in continual process improvement?
  • Information
  • Training
  • Communication mechanisms
  • Problem-solving mechanisms
  • Metrics,
Empowerment is a kind of freedom. If I'm empowered, I am free to:
  • Initiate action to prevent defects
  • Identify and record problems
  • Initiate, recommend or provide solutions through designated channels.
  • Control further processing, delivery or installation of nonconforming product until a deficiency or unsatisfactory condition has been corrected. (In particular, this may mean holding up delivery to the customer, or refusing to start a downstream task, until a quality issue has been resolved.)
Empowerment may also include:
  • Freedom to use discretion and judgement in interpreting and responding to events.
  • Opportunity to influence the agenda, and to set/negotiate goals and priorities.

I hesitate before using the word 'empowerment' because it is so much abused. Many organizations preach it insincerely. In the worst cases, it is used as a label for its opposite: coercing staff to work harder (or to do unpaid overtime) to please customers, without giving them the resources or support that they need to do it properly. "You are empowered, so how dare you leave the office at 5pm?"

But in the best cases, it is a label for a sense of shared responsibility and authority, a shared confidence that management will back me up and reward my well-meant attempts to please the customer.
more People Management
Software Process Improvement

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This page last updated on December 5th, 2003
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