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Empowerment Checklist

Introduction
Empowerment is based on the belief that staff abilities are often under-used and
that, given the chance, staff can and will make a greater contribution once they
are empowered to do so, and will accept the greater responsibility that this
brings. Empowerment can reveal people’s talents, bring them closer to the
centre of workplace action, and give them more power and authority to innovate,
participate in problem-solving and use their initiative. All of this should free up
more time for team managers, as well as improve operations.
Definition
Empowerment is a process whereby employees are given greater discretion, and
control is redistributed to better serve the interests of employing organisations.
Empowerment requires the creation of a climate, atmosphere and culture in
which responsibility and accountability rest with the individual doing the job.
Empowerment is more than delegation. It should be a sincere attempt to
redistribute power and decision-making responsibilities that strips away
unnecessary bureaucracy and control, while retaining some limits on staff
through agreed boundaries. An empowering style of management requires
careful preparation and guidelines. If implemented successfully, the commitment
and motivation of staff will be given new life, as they take more ownership of
situations, generate their own solutions and produce their own ideas for
improving products, services and performance. Managers who are able to create
an environment of trust, and energise, support and coach their people, are key to
successful empowerment.
Action checklist
1. Check your own opinions, assumptions and attitudes
Clarify what you mean by empowerment and what you expect to get out of it. Is
it an improved consultative process? Is it more active delegation? Is it extended
responsibilities - with authority - for problem-solving and decision-making? Is
your principal concern to develop people and expand their job capabilities? Or is
it improvements to the bottom line? Discuss what you are doing and check
whether the expectations of colleagues and senior managers correspond with
your own.
2. Recognise the barriers to empowerment
Barriers may include: organisational culture - many organisations are inherently
controlling, bureaucratic and unreceptive to change psychological factors –
some managers may feel that empowerment means losing control, while some
staff may not want increased responsibilities rigid routines – these often
encourage people not to take responsibility.

5. 1993) and Edgar Schein (Organizational culture and leadership. photocopying. Set up meetings and discussion groups to let everyone know what is happening.and dissolution .and truth .or project-oriented. Wherever the cut-off is defined. participation or full decision-making). electronic. Establish the boundaries Although empowerment allows staff extra autonomy. c) the Fear culture.g. There are no magic tricks or techniques for changing an organisation's culture. why the process is being undertaken. (See Related Checklist Motivating your staff in a time of change (068)). but it is important to recognise that some organizations' cultures are more conducive than others to enabling staff to make a positive contribution. free from fear or blame. when to do and tell. ensure a mechanism is retained to allow staff to refer problems and suggestions upwards where necessary.and generate . No part of this publication may be reproduced in a retrieval system. Consider the following archetypes. or transmitted. Be aware of the need for the right culture There is no formula for the right culture. and set procedures and job descriptions. and when to ask before doing.All rights reserved. without the prior permission of the publisher. Reliant on the formation . at the levels of consultation. 3. d) the Trust culture where: ideas come from individuals people are responsible and motivated there is an air of informality and few closed doors people can make mistakes without fear of blame or recrimination there are constant opportunities for learning. so that staff learn when to do without telling. Set clear limits to responsibility levels and autonomy. the task culture is better equipped than the role culture to respond to . This is suitable in a stable environment.come ultimately from the more senior people relationships are basically vertical and linear each person has a niche which cannot be invaded exchange takes place by agenda and prearranged appointment there is deference to rank and authority people use the formal communication process to ‘cover their backs’. recording or otherwise.change.with defined functions and specialists. where: decisions . what is . in any form or by any means. Raise awareness Before the process of empowerment begins. reinforce them in practice by ‘case law’. Once the boundaries have been agreed and defined. 4. b) the Task culture . there should be a clear indication of where this stops (e. 1985): a) the Role culture . mechanical. it is essential to raise people’s awareness about what it entails. 4th ed. concerned to bring together the right resources and people and let them get on with the job. It is both a lengthy and an expensive process.of teams.job. adapted from the work of Charles Handy (Understanding organizations.

too. Ensure staff have the resources to take control Responsibility for customers. Look out for areas where their jobs can be extended or where they are already unofficially empowering themselves. Carry out an audit of staff skills Investigate the hidden talents staff may have. or transmitted. 10 Agree performance objectives and measures Giving people real responsibility and resources to complete tasks is one thing setting them adrift with these is quite another. Evaluate current job roles Do a job analysis. All rights reserved. and the levels and types of resourcing needed to allow people to carry out their jobs. Reassure those involved and win support from others Staff who are used to doing only what they are told may feel threatened or suspicious about a big change in culture. 11. empowerment can start to take effect. without the prior permission of the publisher. Empowerment encompasses agreeing and establishing with employees the objectives and measures needed to ensure an excellent customer service that is also efficient and effective. and people: seem able to run things without your daily/hourly involvement show initiative and take ownership of ‘their’ customers don't require you to solve ‘their’ problems.but support has to be distinguished from excessive supervision. and what the results are likely to be. Good. recording or otherwise. You will know that empowerment is working when customers become better satisfied. complaints and operational changes will need to be thought through. photocopying. 7. as will new responsibilities. electronic. Launch the initiative Staff may need a good deal of support in the early stages if they are afraid to take on extra responsibility . internal channels of communication are essential for empowerment. bottom-line results start to show through. Encourage the process by . No part of this publication may be reproduced in a retrieval system. Find out what people do in their present jobs. 8.expected of them. mechanical. 9. Managers. Allow people to air their anxieties and ensure they are comfortable with the processes involved. so keep these open and effective. may need careful handling. 6. Ask people about themselves (do not just assume you know all about them) and draw up a ‘talent rota’ of currently under-used talents. in any form or by any means. Once the ground has been prepared. as some may perceive empowerment of their team as a threat to their own control rather than an opportunity for improved processes and services. and check it against formal job descriptions. including those currently used outside the workplace.

give and receive feedback. Establish communication networks to build success and keep the initiative going. To ensure success. They are useful learning experiences for the future . Monitor developments Hold meetings to check progress. Be prepared to live with the mistakes. it is essential to publicise what is happening and to recognise and reinforce examples of good practice. This will help to help show how empowerment can work and demonstrate your commitment to it. you may find it best to start in one area where managers are known to be supportive and where quick results can be expected. and gather ideas and support. Sometimes. Managers should avoid: looking at empowerment as a threat rather than an opportunity creating any expectations that cannot be fulfilled failing to recognise or reward people who take on extra responsibilities .implementing or acting on new ideas that are suggested. 12.as long as the same errors don’t keep happening.