To better understand the whole concept of empowerment process and participation management at workplace it is important to define the concepts individually. Empowerment is a concept that has frequently been used in various contexts; empowerment is a term that can be viewed as ambiguous since it has been applied to mean giving power to somebody and to energize. However, empowerment at the work place is used generally to refer to the process of arming the employees of a company or organization with the rightful knowledge and appropriate resources in order to enable them take perform their work duties effectively and efficiently without relying so much on their superiors (Lashley, p. 207). In the 21st century, empowerment is being considered as very significant at the work place. Most organizations emphasize the empowerment for various achievements. The principle of participatory management at the workplace is the trust that employees can make contributions to the structure and nature of their own work.
Participatory management has been adopted as an alternative to autocratic management technique at the workplace where the top management does not see the need to incorporate the employees in making an organization’s key decisions (Sager, p. 75). The employees are simply expected to accept and implement without questioning the decisions made by the senior management officials. The adoption of participatory management follows after the realization that workers are the ones involved in the actual production process in an organization and therefore should be allowed to contribute to the key decision making in the company or organization. The use of both empowerment and participatory management mainly target at improving the productivity of employees at the workplace. Managers and business executives have realized that for their organizations to increase their output, they must now find ways inducing their workers to participate beyond the normal level in order to tap on their potentials and experiences.
Background of Empowerment Process and Participation management at workplace
Historically, the link between an organization’s management and its workers has been greatly tensed. In the past, managers and chief executive officers would make decisions and impose them on workers with total disregard to how the decisions would affect the workers themselves. The workers were supposed to do what they were told or advised to do without any deviation. The workplace used to be intolerable for many workers. They would either be affected in terms of health or fired due to lack or required capacity to perform. The result of this was slowed productivity; each time an employee was fired a company or corporate organization lost skills and expertise in a given area of production, then they were also forced to replace the fired workers with new people with less experience. These people needed to gain experience within a certain period during which overall production reduced (Hytrek, p. 157).
Within certain periods, radical forces mainly instituted by poorly treated employees started to build up. The forces demanded better treatment at the workplace and better pay for work actually done. The forces included humanism and unionization. The more the workers were poorly treated, the more they radically rebelled. This scenario became increasingly insurmountable and led the management to realize that for workers to work effectively and efficiently they must be treated well. Due to this, management swiftly changed into a science and started leading to formation of several management theories; the first theory to come up was the theory of scientific management which is associated with Fredrick Taylor who advocated standardization and measurement of task while at the same time offering punishments and rewards to employees (Chapman, p. 105). Max Weber came up with scientific management; in his ideology he included certain twists in bureaucratic management. He is one of the proponents who advocated for hierarchical organizations with strict authority and regulations. Later, the concept of Human
Relations Movement came up and is still used by most organizations to improve workers’ productivity. The movement recognizes that individual employees have certain unique interests and skills which can be tapped to enhance the performance of an organization, but this can only happen when their well being is ensured. The well being of employees is reflected in the achievements of the organization. This realization resulted into several programs meant to ensure the well being of the workers. These include team building, quality circles and empowerment schemes. The organizations’ top leadership was trained to worth through consensus management, delegation of duty and just walking around without harassing employees. Taking such steps proved beneficial to both workers and the employers. The engagement of employees through empowerment and participatory management has nowadays become so important to a company’s enhancement of productivity that it forms part of any organization’s strategies to achieve goals and objectives (Swansburg, p. 396).
The main issues
It is important to realize that an organization cannot achieve its goals and objectives without the participation of productive workers whose interests are well taken care of. Employee empowerment has been used to engage individual employees who have been identified to be able to ensure quality production. For along time, employees have been known to be monetary driven. This has been proved to be highly likely but only and only if the employees are not considered to be an integral part of an organization. In order for an empowerment to be successful, it is only important to allow the employees to enjoy some level of autonomy and also get feedback on crucial issues of their concerns within the organization (Jex, p. 251).
Nonetheless, empowerment and participatory management does not mean that that the management has relinquished its mandate to be responsible and accountable for the organization’s core business performance and also leadership of organization. In the context of employee empowerment, the top management becomes responsible for creating and ensuring an environment that recognizes the importance of workers’ input and also their skills are cultivated. It is therefore, crucial for an organization’s management to trust the employees and communicate with them in a way that promotes the employees’ confidence.
One of the most indicators of empowered workers is the nature of communication. The management should always adopt communication mechanisms that are able to convince the majority of the employees. Many employees, if not properly involved in the activities of the organization, will most likely take time before they are really accept to participate fully in the growth of an organization and even work towards achieving the organization’s goals and objectives. A fundamental expression of employee empowerment is through the encouragement of participative management. It has been proven that participatory management and satisfaction are powerfully associated with employees’ performance and inspiration.
The process of empowerment demands that the managers and chief executive officers engage in delegating duties and other responsibilities directly to their workers. In the process, the management should ensure that the responsibilities and duties are delegated to the bottom most level of the business organization. This has the effects of being able to recognize the workers’ potentiality to single out problems and look for appropriate resolutions. It is always important that workers are directly involved in every process of decision making that has direct effect on them. A group of empowered employees will definitely be aware of what do rather that wait to be told the next course of action every moment. The process of participatory management should be done such that the most experienced employees are given promotions coupled with salary increment.
The advent of employee empowerment and participatory management has made the management perform the function of supporting and giving inspirations to employees in order to achieve organizational goals and objectives.
Unfortunately, many top organizational managers and chief executive officers have not supported the idea of employee empowerment and participatory management at the workplace. Such organizational leaders fear that they are likely to loose control and authority over the employees and also the possible loss of career. Most of the affected leaders are those of the middle level business organizations.
The best way to deal with resistance of management against empowerment and participatory management, they leaders should be provided with training on how to handle any kind of organizational changes. They should be assured that their mandates are not being eradicated but are simply being changed and made to be more dynamic.
The Coca Cola Bottling Company of Northern Texas is one of the exemplary organizations that empowers employees and engages the use of participatory management. The company has offered its employees some form of autonomy that enables the employees to freely think and propose t6heir ideas without unnecessary fear of reprimands from the top management. The company has programs of training employees on leadership, the employees are allowed to advance their careers and also promoted on meritocracy, employees earn good salaries commensurate with work the do and several instances of teambuilding. The employees are also well represented in the executive committee which implies that their well being is well taken care of. The empowerment and participatory management adopted by the company has played a major role in increasing the productivity of the employees and hence the company’s overall output (Empower International, pp. 1-8).
It is important for top organizational leadership to realize that employees are crucial assets in any company or any form of corporate organization. They play a major role in the achievement of organizational goals and objectives. In order to achieve these goals and objectives, it is important that employees are considered as an integral part of an organization. The best way to achieve this is engaging them through empowerment and participatory management. The top management should adopt work delegation right the topmost level to the lowest level of the organization. This will definitely show that the employees’ potential ability to identify challenges and offer appropriate solutions is recognized. This will also foster good relations between employees and the management. In order to empower the employees and involve then in participatory management, the employees should be trusted and allowed to freely float their ideas without fear of any form of punishment or sanction.
- Chapman, Erie. “Radical Loving Care.” Building the Healing Hospital in America. United States: Baptist Healing Hospital Trust, 2003.
- Empower International. “Leadership in Motion.” 2010.
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- Jex, Steve. “Organizational psychology.” A scientist-practitioner approach. United States: John Wiley and Sons, 2002.
- Lashley, Conrad. “Empowerment.” HR strategies for service excellence. US: Butterworth-Heinemann, 2001.
- Sager, Donald.” Participatory management in libraries. United States: Scarecrow Press, 1982.
- Swansburg, Russell. “Management and leadership for nurse managers.” United States: Jones & Bartlett Learning, 1996.