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 A primary goal of employee empowerment is to give
workers a greater voice in decisions about work-
related matters.
 Decision-making authority can range from offering
suggestions to exercising veto power over management
 Potential Areas of Decision Making:
 how jobs are to be performed
 working conditions
 company policies
 work hours
 peer review
 and how supervisors are evaluated
 All employees view themselves as ‘owners’ of the business
 Improved productivity
 Creativity & Innovation
 Customer-focus
 Faster decision-making
 Organizational learning
 Making full use of Human resources-
 “Engaging the mind of every employee”
 Total management control- No employee discretion
 Participatory management- management generally
controls the work & the context, but allow
employees to make some decisions(typically minor
 Self-management- employees make most decisions
pertaining to their work and work setting
 Employees who feel empowered share the following 4
 Meaning - belief that one’s work is aligned with his/her
 Competence - belief that he/she has the ability to
effectively complete his/her work role
 Self-determination - belief that he/she has the freedom &
right to decide how to approach his/her work, without
being micromanaged
 Impact - belief that he/she can influence organization

Gretchen Spreitzer
 First, empowerment can strengthen motivation by
providing employees with the opportunity to attain
intrinsic rewards from their work, such as a greater
sense of accomplishment and a feeling of importance.
 Intrinsic rewards such as job satisfaction and a sense of
purposeful work can be more powerful than extrinsic
rewards such as higher wages or bonuses.
 The second means by which employee empowerment
can increase productivity is through better decisions.
Especially when decisions require task-specific
knowledge, those on the front line can often better
identify problems.
 Toyota Motor Company empowers some of its
employees to identify and help remedy problems
occurring during product assembly. An automobile
coming off Toyota's assembly line with a paint
defect is seen as an opportunity to delve into the
root cause of the defect, as opposed to merely fixing
the defect and passing it on to distributors for
 Solutions resulting from employee involvement tend to
have more employee buy-in when it comes to
implementation. Because such solutions are generated
from the front lines, this further enhances the potential
for productivity improvements by reducing the attitude
that solutions are "passed down from above."
A number of different human resource management
programs are available that grant employee empowerment
to some extent. A number of these are discussed in the
following sections including-
 Informal participative decision-making
 Job enrichment
 Continuous improvement
 Self-managed work teams.
 Informal participative decision-making programs
involve managers and subordinates making joint
decisions on a daily basis.
 Employees do not enjoy blanket authority to make all
work-related decisions; managers decide just how
much decision-making authority employees should
have in each instance.
 The amount of authority varies depending on such
situational factors as decision complexity and the
importance of employee acceptance of the decision.
 While it may seem obvious, one key to empowerment is
choosing under what conditions to empower
employees. Employees should be empowered in
situations where they can make decisions that are as
good as, or better than, those made by their managers.
 Managers misunderstand it.
 Managers only pay it “Lip Service”.
 Organizations are not prepared in terms of
structure,culture & rewards.
 Managers are displeased when empowered workers
make decisions that differ from their expectations.
 Managers expect to see results without having to make
a strong commitment or taking risks.
 Employees need the skills and training to manage risks and
 Many employees don’t want the added responsibility and
accountability & are uncomfortable with “putting their necks
on the line”.
 Not all people are conscientious enough to be empowered.
 Job enrichment aims to redesign jobs to be more intrinsically
rewarding. Certain job characteristics help managers to build
enrichment into jobs. These characteristics include:
 Skill variety- The various skills needed to perform a given task,
where increased skill requirements are associated with
increased motivation.
 Task identity- The degree to which employees perceive how
their job impacts the overall production of a product or service.
 Task significance- Whether the task is meaningful beyond the
task itself.
 Autonomy- Employee discretion over how to perform a task.
 Feedback- Input from peers and supervisors regarding the
quality of an employee's work.
 Combining tasks- This involves assigning
tasks performed by different workers to a single
For example, in a furniture factory, rather than
working on just one part of the production process,
each person could assemble, sand, and stain an
entire table or chair. This change would increase skill
variety, as well as task identity, as each worker would
be responsible for the job from start to finish.
 Establish client relationships- Client relationships
could be established by putting the worker in touch
with customers.
For example, an auto dealership service department
could allow its mechanics to discuss service
problems directly with customers, rather than going
through the service manager. By establishing client
relationships, skill variety is increased because
workers have a chance to develop interpersonal
skills. It also provides them with a chance to do a
larger part of the job (task identity), to see how their
work impacts customers (task significance), and to
have more decision-making authority(autonomy).
 Often referred to as Total Quality Management, these
programs empower workers to trace product or service
problems to their root causes and redesign production
processes to eliminate them using various problem-
solving and statistical techniques. The use of
continuous improvement programs have grown
rapidly, built on the successful experiences of
numerous companies.
 Xerox, for example, was able to decrease the number
of customer complaints it received by 38 percent after
implementing continuous improvement methods.
 Motorola reduced the number of defects in its products
by 80 percent. .
Self-managed work teams are not for all
organizations; characteristic needed for success

 Technical

 Interpersonal skills

 Administrative skills
 Rivalry within and across teams.
 A shortage of time and skills on the team to deal with
conventional management concerns like hiring,
training, and resolving interpersonal disputes.
 Difficulty appraising employees in the absence of a
traditional management figure.
 Supervisors needs to be committed to giving up direct
control for value- based control.
 Supervisors needs to be trained facilitators not
 Supervisors must be willing to accept some risk &
uncertainty & to tolerate mistakes.
 Supervisors must seek empowerment from employees
for the right decisions.
Low role Org.
ambiguity Climate

Wide span
Access to
“A funny thing happens when you take the
time to educate your employees, pay
them well, and treat them as equals. You
end up with extremely motivated and
enthusiastic people.”