Special Article (June-2017)

 Special Articles

Pick of the Month

Dr. Debendra P. Kar

Designation : -   Associate Professor

Organization : -  Institute of Management Technology, Hyderabad


Factors of workplace empowerment

Many organizational change and development interventions have centered on the concept of empowerment. Organizations during the last few decades have been propagating employee empowerment for organizational effectiveness through practices like participative management, quality of work life, profit sharing, the quality circle movements etc. They have believed in workplace empowerment for improving productivity; inculcate innovativeness, and increasing satisfaction.  It is presently recognized as one means by which managers can effectively manage today's organizations, which are characterized by more complexity, a greater variety of influence channels, a growing reliance on horizontal structures and peer networks.

Empowerment has been given a variety of conceptual and operational definitions and has been analyzed as both a relational and a motivational construct. When viewed as a relational construct, empowerment concerns an individual's power and control from one individual to another with less power. As a motivational construct, empowerment comprises individual cognitions and perceptions that constitute feelings of behavioural and psychological investment in work.

Empowerment is usually understood as a process of increasing individual perceptions of control in job roles. It involves delegation, individual responsibility, autonomous decision making and feelings of self-efficacy. In the organizational context employee empowerment is 'getting workers to do what need to be done rather than doing what they're told'. Empowerment occurs when objective and structural conditions in the workplace are changed or "enhanced" such that job incumbents have greater decision latitude in their work and greater overall influence in their workplaces.

In the process of empowerment what really matters is the "empowerment experience" on the part of the individual job incumbent. Management practices are only one set of potentially empowering conditions, and because those practices may empower employees but "will not necessarily do so" the focus should be on the "psychological experience of empowerment". Employees usually perceive empowerment from four cognitive perspective - meaning (i.e., the value of his or her work), competence (i.e. his or her capability to perform the work), self-determination (i.e., choice in initiating and regulating actions), and impact (the ability to effect or influence organizational outcomes).

In some other cases it is observed that employee empowerment stems from an employee's interaction with the environment where he works. These interactive processes   encourage employees to take initiative to improve process and to get engaged in conducive action.  The major environmental dimensions that result in greater employee empowerment are shared vision, supportive organizational structure and governance, knowledge and learning and institutional recognition.  These four broader dimensions encompass sub-dimensions like goal clarity, goal achievement, customer orientation, responsibility, teams, risk taking, change management, communication, trust, skills and problem solving and knowledge of reward systems and each one by themselves are important parameters to constitute employee empowerment.