The idea of allowing workers to take more
reponibilit for operational deciion eemto repreent the ver eence of the modern,dnamic organiation. Tom Peter, the authorof betelling buine book
In Search of Excellence
, put it thi wa: “If ou don’t knowwhere our people are toda, that’ probabla good ign. It mean that the’re workingbeond functional wall.”If a compan’ management tle moveawa from top-down command and controlto bottom-up empowerment, there areimplication for organiational deign,emploee motivation, management controltem, operational rik and informationreporting tem. But, while thi “wonder”approach ma be appropriate in omeituation, at other time manager might tillneed to upervie and control worker moredirectl. Element of thee iue alo appearin paper P2 and P5.Giving worker the authorit to do their job in the wa that’ mot appropriate totheir local circumtance ha been one of themot ignificant development in managementthinking over the pat 20 ear. The baicidea i that thoe on the front line are betplaced to undertand changing cutomer/ production requirement. The hould,therefore, have the dicretion to reactaccordingl. Other term to decribe thiempowered approach include “participation”,“autonom” and “entrepreneurhip” (in thelat cae, people are encouraged to thinkand act a though the buine were theirown). It contrat with the traditionalcommand-and-control approach, wherebenior manager are aumed to know betand their main tak i to decide what to doand tell their ubordinate how to do it.Both approache have pro and condepending on, for example, the complexitand variabilit of local condition/cutomerrequirement; the competence of theworkforce; the abilit of the compan’information and control tem to retaincontrol; the rik of thing going wrong; andthe overall trategic objective.Empowerment i primaril intended tomake the organiation more reponive tochanging conumer need and/or foteremploee-driven innovation. It i uuallaccompanied b a flattening of themanagerial hierarch o that the calar chain,and hence the communication time betweenthe bottom and the top of the organiation, ihortened. But ometime uch delaering idone impl to ave cot – andempowerment can become abandonment.Empowerment initiative have beenapplied widel, from car factorie to doctor’urgerie. In eence, the eek to promoteflexibilit of thought and action amongemploee. Often thi i an ideal to beworked toward, rather than an abolutetate. Mot people enthue about the notion.Giving power to thoe who face the problemat the harp end of the buine feel rightintuitivel. In m own reearch, a plantmanager explained that “empowerment i likepulling 200 mall lever rather than one bigone. It’ about the compan truting u.”But it can mean different thing to differentpeople – and there i cepticim. Anothermanager in the ame compan told me: “I amempowered to olve an problem, a long aI don’t pend an mone doing it.” In otherword, enior manager can ueempowerment a a convenient wa of hiftingreponibilit without a commenurateincreae in dicretion over reource. Othertudie have raied quetion about thiiue. According to Adrian Wilkinon(“Empowerment theor and practice”,
, Vol 27, No 1, 1998), motempowerment initiative “are purpoefulldeigned not to give worker a verignificant role in deciion-making but ratherto enhance emploee contribution to theorganiation”. He went on to ugget that theterm “empowerment” could cover a range of tle (
).Empowerment ma involve flexibilit in whatworker do and how the do it, a long a the
analyses the pros and cons o employee empowermentand discusses the role o the management accounting unction.
ManageMent accounting –PerforMance evaluation
D mpwm sys
Thi motl entail downward communication – eg, briefing,newletter and buine plan – but it include upward andhorizontal communication, involving information-haring amongcro-functional team.
Emploee have the power to refer problem to their managerto tackle (thi ma involve being empowered to halt production).
Emploee take on wider reponibilit for procee, uuall aelf-directed team. Thi aid delaering and a reduction inexternal inpection routine a peer preure become the maincontrol mechanim.
Empowerment i een a a pchological proce where there ilittle change in work or organiational tructure but emploeelearn to feel empowered (a tate of mind) and become moreconfident in their interaction with cutomer.
Thi hould involve the eroion of diviion between managerand worker. Deciion, rule and authorit would no longer beet b the few for the man.
G E T T y I M A G E s