Various management scholars have advanced differing opinions on what employee empowerment entails. Klidas and others adopted the view that empowerment is “devolving decision making authority and responsibility to frontline employees for control and enhancement of service quality and customer satisfaction during service delivery” (Klidas Antonis et al 2007:72). The central focus is on customer satisfaction during service delivery. To possess power employees require discretionary behavior aimed at satisfying the customer. An employee can have the power to utilize whatever resources to please the guests (Kelly, 1996).
Another area that is contentious resonates on the premise that employees should have full autonomy to make decisions without infringement of the management. Wilkinson wonders how much power the management should concede. Proponents of employee empowerment advocate for full withdrawal of control through direct supervision and strict rules and procedures (Klidas et al 2007:p.73). They instead propagate for alternative means like thoughtful employee selection; recruitment and training as a way of exercising work process control in form of skills, knowledge and attitudes that enhance employee behavior.
As argued elsewhere, training doesn’t have a direct influence on empowerment. In this regard training empowerment comes in form of beliefs, values and norms that are inculcated to employees over time. It is a unique form of employee compliance without necessarily controlling directly. Training develops skills necessary for increased authority. The employees have the power to handle complaints. It supports empowerment through motivation and morale boosting; increases flexibility allows them to function independently. It re-awakens in employees’ feelings of self efficacy and need to participate in decision making. It makes them aware of need to be responsible for their actions within set belief systems. Furthermore, customer care skills as interpersonal communication are developed. It imparts knowledge and skills that develop good judgment skills, initiative and creativity. This empowers them to know how to handle any situation any where without necessarily seeking external guidance. Finally employee training shapes perceptions on organizational values, missions and objectives.
An empowering manager would empower an employee through providing an environment that motivates initiative taking and employee risk. This will allow new thinking and experimenting on certain skills. An empowering manager is one who believes in my abilities as an employee accepts my direction of thinking. He/she teaches new skills incrementally and encourages his/her workers when they perform assigned tasks. He/she is humorous and focuses on personal improvement and development.
On contrary, as a manager I would empower employees in different ways. I would allow room for employees to have autonomy while handling customers so that they do not have to refer back to me for an action. For instance, if it were a car dealing business and a frequent customer wanted to change accessories for free; it would be up to the employee at the station to make such a decision. My part as a manger would be to provide necessary skills that will enable him/her to make decisions in the interest of customer satisfaction and future business sustainability. Furthermore, my team of employees would undergo incremental trainings because it prepares employees to change willingly; encourages independence; establishes good relationships with the workers and trains them well on roles and responsibilities. This would enable them understand goals and objectives of the organization as a team rather than as individuals.
As a field supervisor I had autonomy while performing an organizational task. I had full control over my team while conducting research. I directed the research implementation process providing leadership to fellow colleagues on emerging challenges in the field. The challenges that came up delayed the time schedule and prolonged the research period. This was necessary so as to collect reliable and sufficient data while at the same time it stretched the budget. When I completed the exercise, I realized how full autonomy enabled me to take control of the situation. This was enriching and empowering at the same time.
Conflict Management Test
Various people have their own way of dealing with conflict based on their temperament, personality, environment and level of professional development. The conflict management test quiz is a technique used to analyze leadership styles exhibited at various occasions by various individuals in an organization or communal environment. The following test instructions are conducted.
On a scale of one to four where: 1 equals rarely; 2 equals sometimes; 3 equals often and 4 equals always
|Answer the following questions||Rating|
|1. I explore issues with others so as to find solutions that meet everyone’s needs.||4|
|2. I try to negotiate and adopt a give-and-take approach to problem situations.||4|
|3. I try to meet the expectations of others.||2|
|4. I would argue my case and insist on the merits of my point of view.||4|
|5. When there is a disagreement, I gather as much information as I can and keep the lines of communication open.||2|
|6. When I find myself in an argument, I usually say very little and try to leave as soon as possible.||4|
|7. I try to see conflicts from both sides. What do I need? What does the other person Need? What are the issues involved?||1|
|8. I prefer to compromise when solving problems and just move on.||3|
|9. I find conflicts challenging and exhilarating; I enjoy the battle of wits that usually follows.||2|
|10. Being at odds with other people makes me feel uncomfortable and anxious.||3|
|11. I try to accommodate the wishes of my friends and family.||2|
|12. I can figure out what needs to be done and I am usually right.||3|
|13. To break deadlocks, I would meet people halfway.||4|
|14. I may not get what I want but it’s a small price to pay for keeping the peace.||1|
|15. I avoid hard feelings by keeping my disagreements with others to myself.||3|
In the guide provided below, the 15 statements correspond to leadership styles. To find your preferred leadership style, total the points based on the rating scales provided in separate leadership styles. Those with highest score suggest a manner they regularly use while lowest means the manner least used. Middle rating means a blend of styles may be used by such a leader.
Corresponding style of conflict management
|Collaborating:||1, 5, 7||3|
|Competing:||4, 9, 12||5|
|Avoiding:||6, 10, 15||0|
|Harmonizing:||3, 11, 14||5|
|Compromising:||2, 8, 13||4|
From the table above, collaborative style of leadership solves problems on a win-win basis. Both sides get what they want; meaning that negative feelings may be minimized. It increases mutual trust but is time consuming. The authoritarian style is quick in decision making but breeds hostility. The avoiding style is one where confrontations could be avoided to minimize injury. The compromising style, on the other hand, prefers middle ground. All parties are in power and non may be satisfied.