Total Quality Management

Employee Involvement & Empowerment

M. Ali Hassan

What is Employee Involvement?
• It’s a way of engaging employees at all levels in the thinking process of an organization. It’s the recognition that many decisions can be made better by seeking the input of those who may be affected by them • It’s an understanding that people at all levels in an organization possess unique talents, skills and creativity that can be of significant value if allowed to be expressed

What is empowerment?
• Empowerment is employee involvement that matters. • It is the controlled transfer of authority to make decisions and take actions • The difference between involvement and empowerment is, just having input and having input that is heard, considered and allowed to be implemented.

• Involve all personnel in virtually everything For example, quality improvement program, selfinspection; productivity improvement; measuring and monitoring results; budget development; review and adjustment; assessment of new technology; recruitment and hiring; making customer calls and participating in customer visit programs.

Why employee involvement sometimes fail?
• Many employee involvement systems fail within the first year. • The reason is: they involve but do not empower. • Without empowerment, employee involvement is just another management tool that does not work.

Case study
• James Monroe, CEO of Spiral Electronics decided to get his employees involved as a way to improve work and enhance his company’s competitiveness. He called his managers and supervisors together, explained his idea, and had suggestion boxes placed in all depts. At first the boxes filled to overflow. Supervisors emptied them once a week, acted on any suggestions they thought had merit and discarded the rest. After couple of months, employee suggestions dwindled down to one or two a month. Worse, recent suggestion forms contained derisive remarks about the company and its suggestion system. Productivity has not improved and morale is worse than before. Monroe is at a loss over what to do. Employee involvement was supposed to help, not hurt. Why did this happen?

Empowerment & Culture
• Successful implementation or empowerment requires change in corporate culture • It’s a major new direction in how managers think and work • The division of labor between managers and workers changes with empowerment

Grazier’s Comments
• Empowerment is not something “nice” we do for our employees to make them feel better. It’s an understanding that it’s everyone’s obligation – part of the job- to constantly look for better ways of doing things. It’s part of the job to ask questions and raise issues of concern, to get them out on the table so they can be resolved. How else can we get better? It’s a major change of direction in the way we lead our workforce. It’s a change that affects the culture of the workplace as we know it and therefore it’s a change that must be implemented with great care and attention.

Does Empowerment means Abdication?
• Some traditional managers view empowerment as turning over control of company’s authority to employees • Pooling ideas from all people involved in the process will enhance rather than diminish manger’s power. • It will increase the likelihood of making best possible decision and thereby more effectively carrying out their jobs.

Working Hard or Working Smart
• Technology is one way to work smarter but it can be copied. • Creative and involved workforce is the most effective and smartest way to work. • While working employees observe, think, sense and analyze. It’s natural to ask questions, such as:
– Why is it done this way? – How could it be done better? – Will I or customer want the product like this?

Empowerment & Motivation
• Empowerment is the key to motivation and productivity. An employee who feels he is valued and can contribute is ready to help and grow in the job. Empowerment enables a person to develop personally and professionally so that his contributions in the workplace are maximized.

Empowerment & Participatory Management
• Participatory Management is about managers asking for employee’s help in problem solving and decision making. Empowerment is about getting employees to help themselves, their teammates and the company. It helps employees develop a sense of ownership of their jobs and of the company. This leads to greater willingness to make decisions, take risks in an effort to improve and speak out when they disagree.

Obstacles to Empowerment
• Resistance from employees
– Skepticism due to past experiences – Inertia to change – Fear of learning and training – Assumptions about higher expectations

Obstacles to Empowerment
• Resistance from unions
– Adversarial relationship between organized labor and management – Resentment towards an idea not originated by the union – Concern about affects of empowerment towards their future Example of Florida Power & Light Corp.

Obstacles to Empowerment
• Resistance from Managers
– Insecurity – Personal values – Ego – Management training – Personality characteristics – Exclusion of managers

Management’s Role in Empowerment
• • • • • • • Exhibiting a supportive attitude Being a role model Being a trainer Being a facilitator Practicing MBWA Taking quick actions on recommendations Recognizing the efforts of employees

Tools of Empowerment
• • • • • Suggestion Boxes Brainstorming Nominal Group Techniques Quality circles Walking & Talking

Suggestion system
• • • • • • • Establish suggestion Policy Set up suggestion system Promote suggestion system Evaluate suggestions Implement suggestions Reward employees for suggestions Review&Improve suggestion system

Handling Poor Suggestions
• • • • • Listen carefully Express appreciation Carefully explain your position Encourage feed back Look for compromise

Empowerment Traps
• Defining empowerment as Discretion and self reliance • Failing to define the new roles of supervisors and managers • Assuming employees have the skills to be empowered • Getting impatient

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