Empowerment as a tool for effective management of conflict and change
Globalization and liberalization of the hospitality industry have brought with it an unprecedented level of competition in the hospitality industry. To respond to this situation, the hospitality industry has no choice but to change from the old and usual ways of operation so that productivity will increase. In addition, this will help the industry to be more cost-effective and competitive (Harold, 1996).
The management of change is proving an immense challenge to the hospitality industry. There is great inertia and the workers are bent on resisting change. In addition, there is general ignorance on the trend of globalization and liberalization. It is therefore essential that if a change is to be successfully managed in the hospitality industry, then various areas have to be changed (Harold, 1996). The areas that require a change in the industry include technology, the structure, and the present system of operation, people and the old culture that workers are used to. For effective change to be implemented, all these areas have to be affected as they are all interrelated.
A program that is effective in addressing change will have to address all the areas above and it is upon the management to determine the sequence in which the varied regions will be changed. The hospitality industry will need to apply facilitators for the intended change. The reason is to have a minimization of the latent inhibitors of change (Anastassova, 1996).
The expectations of employees and the prevalent job mobility are a big management challenge. This happens because the managers try to keep their best workers. However, to retain people, management needs to implement attractive compensation besides applying effective empowerment principles (Harold, 1996). Employees are always looking for an opportunity to grow in their profession and a general advancement. Management practices that are flexible help to built loyalty.
Among the many existing fashionable management terms, empowerment is one of the terms. It refers to a change strategy that is implemented to improve an individual’s and organization’s ability to act (Erstad 1997). In organizations, change and conflict resolution can be affected by creating an empowerment culture, effecting empowerment as a strategy for management, training employees for empowerment and empowering teams in the industry.
Considering the case of the tourism industry in South Africa, changing the ownership of enterprises is one way that is widely recognized for overall empowerment. The level of black ownership in a company is one recognized way of measuring black economic development (South Africa Tourism Industry 2002). The measures put in place prove that few companies in the country can be said to be black empowered. However, the industry has made steps in empowering employees by establishing strategies that enable them to share ownership. Shares in a company are set aside for employees. AVIS for instance has a share option scheme where each employee has a minimum of two thousand shares. This is a sure way of empowering employees and managing change (South Africa Tourism Industry, 2002).
In Canada, a great deal of people is employed in the hospitality industry. In this industry, leadership and management are connected. Leadership is a process that aims at influencing other employees to attain the goals of an organization. Change in the hospitality industry has resulted in a more participative and consultative leadership style. Leaders are now able to manage and anticipate change. Managers can use power and empowerment to attain the set goals.
The level of empowerment is connected to the strength an organization’s culture has. Schein (2000) defines strong culture as one that is based on homogeneity and the stability of leadership and group membership. It is also based on the intensity and the length of the shared experiences the group has. Empowerment requires good leaders and equally good followers. This will enable empowerment to influence the change required in an organization that enjoys a strong culture.
There is a suggestion by conventional wisdom that with empowered people, managers are more effective. It is easier then to achieve the objectives of the organization and achieve them more easily(Erstad 1997). The hospitality industry is very sensitive as it requires maximum satisfaction from the customers. It is therefore an added advantage to have empowered employees if this will make the achievement of goals and objectives easier.
Empowerment exemplifies the concept of inherent motivation, internal rationalization in the making of decisions, sharing of responsibilities, and amalgamation in the solving of problems in an organization. The concepts are interrelated in a model for the change of culture and socialization. In an organization, employees gain more knowledge as they mature in the institution. They also internalize justification for all their actions in the organization (Harold, 1996). They are also motivated in the work that they do. Empowered employees tend to take more active responsibility in arbitrating in the actions of newly-employed staff. They are also active in responding to inquiries on behaviors that are consistent in the culture of the organization.
Participative management has some restrictive forms. One of these is when the workers on one level discuss operational issues and produce proposals for management. These should be replaced by open forms of the same where workers have authority to make decisions concerning their areas of responsibility. Changing from restrictive forms of participative management to more open forms is one way of empowering the workers (Erstad, 1997).
There arte around four concepts that are involved in empowerment. One of these regards intrinsically-motivated behavior. This refers to when the workers behave in a consistent way because they have internalized the culture existent in the organization. If an employee is motivated in this way, they are more likely to internally justify actions. Employees that have been in an organization for a long time and know the culture well are in a position to help other workers learn the traditions of the organization in areas where behavior is not consistent with the traditions in the organization. This can only happen if the workers have been empowered and feel the authority to do so.
In an organization where workers are empowered, responsibilities are shared across the levels. Some of the responsibilities of management are released to the levels that deal with clients on a one-o-one basis. The hospitality industry requires this sort of operation as clients are more in contact with lower level workers than they are with the management. Take the hotel industry for instance (Anastassova, 1996). Clients will be more likely to communicate with waiters and housekeepers than the hotel managers. Conflict would be created if the former are not given authority to act on their level of responsibility and have to probably consult every time there is a problem.
Participative management also requires that empowered workers take it upon themselves to integrate in problem-solving. Small group efforts are more significant in an empowered unit. The groups are unstructured and are formed because of the need to solve a problem that has arisen on the spur of the moment. They are created because of the creation 0of empowerment (Erstad, 1997).
Organizations have to cope with change. The level of empowerment in an organization is connected to the culture in the organization. Empowerment is supported by a strong culture in a variety of ways. Organizations where culture is strong provide stability and lucidity in their missions. They also minimize conflict because they have reduced ambiguity in their communications (Anastassova, 1996). There is some sort of uniformity in the communications. In addition, the organizations that have empowered their employees tend to have strong consistency. This is the main drive in the decision-making processes across the organization. More to this is the fact that empowered employees are able to build a social currency that is based on the network of relationships within the organization. The social currency is responsible for building a foundation for good communication and trust. Things are done without having to involve the management as employees are given the authority to act on their own decisions (Anastassova, 1996).
High empowerment levels can produce a strong culture in any organization. Culture is important in organizations that deal with a high number of clients and where maximum satisfaction of these clients is the main objective (Anastassova, 1996). Members in an industry with a strong culture have been bale to internalize the culture of that organization and can adapt well to any sort of change. Being able to share experiences and ideas also enables management to solve the problem of conflict among the employees and between the management and work force (Erstad, 1997). Such employees can make decisions in the absence of policy or upper management.
- “South Africa Tourism Industry Empowerment Transformation. Annual Review 2002.
- Anastassova, S. 1996. Human Resource management in the hotel industry. Journal of management, vol. 3.
- Erstad Margaret 1997. Empowerment and organizational change. Internal Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management, vol. 9, Issue 7, pp 327.
- Harold, Kurstedt. Understanding and using empowerment to change organizational culture. Industrial Management Publication, 1996.