Employees Empowerment: A key to intrinsic motivation


Ms. Vijit Chaturvedi
Faculty (HRM)
ICFAI University

Empowerment is the process of enabling or authorizing an individual to think, behaves, take action, and control work and decision making in autonomous ways. It is the state of feeling self-empowered to take control of one's own destiny. It is not something that can be delegated or somebody can bestow because it comes from Individual and self direction The basic purpose of empowerment is lost in majority of organization because employees expect it as a delegation process instead of a initiating and ongoing process in which an individual enabling himself to take action and control work and decision making in autonomous ways which comes from the individual.

The organization has the responsibility to create a work environment which helps foster the ability and desire of employees to act in empowered ways. The work organization has the responsibility to remove barriers that limit the ability of staff to act in empowered ways.

Differentiating empowerment with employee involvement and participative management. These terms are sometimes used interchangeably but they differ a lot and connote different meaning. Since empowerment in itself is a macro approach and participative management and employees involvement are a part of this approach.

Empowerment refers to a state of mind as well as a result of position, policies, and practices or as defined by Bowan and Lawler it is a process of sharing with front-line employees four organizational ingredients knowledge, information, power and reward which makes the complete process of empowerment a success or as defined by Menon it was defined as a cognitive state of perceived control, perceived competence and goal internalization.

In the, mechanistic approach managers and researchers believed that empowerment was about delegating decision making within a set of clear boundaries. Delegate responsibility and Hold people accountable for results. In the, organic approach to empowerment researchers and managers believed that it empowerment was about risk taking, growth, and change understanding the needs of the employees model empowered behavior for the employees build teams to encourage cooperative behavior; encourage intelligent risk taking; and trust people to perform.

Empowered employees are, after all, more innovative, creative, and resourceful. They are free from the shackles of management, so they are happy and motivated at work and willing to take on new responsibilities.

Employee involvement means that every employee in an organization  is valuable and is having worth and is having involvement in running the business  empowerment means that  management recognizes his ability  and provide employees with authority  and tools required to  continuously improve the process

Essentials before implementing Empowerment process 

1) A company culture which would support a participative approach
Employee relations must be reasonably healthy
Acceptance of long term commitment
4) Willingness to provide sufficient company resources
5) Availability of Management attention
6) Voluntary Participation
7) Top management support
8)  Facilitator guidance
9) Operational Support
10) Training

Techniques / process for employee's empowerment

Certain questions for the management to understand are –How to involve the people? How can we use teams to improve? How to involve employees in quality improvement process?

Different techniques for employee's involvement include suggestion systems, team, focus groups, surveys, self – directed work groups, incentive program. Other methods involve –

a) Giving responsibility to employees
b) Training employees to accept responsibility
c) Communicating and giving feedback
d) Giving reward and recognition
e) Process reengineering
f) Employees involvement
g) Total quality management

Steps in employee's empowerment

1) Clarity of the purpose , goals and objectives of empowerment
2) Willingness by employees and supervisors to accept responsibility
3) Communication and feedback to supervisors
4) Reward and recognition

For example CMD won Baldridge award in 1994  as ATR&T consumer   communication services. They do it through 6 interconnect approaches –

a) Common bond
b) Ask question
c) Process management team
d) Quality improvement team
e) Corrective and preventive action system
f) Communication

Apart from this the basic essential ingredients are

a) Respect for individuals
b) Dedication for customers
c) Highest standards for integrity
d) Innovation teamwork

Another successful strategy as used by Oral-B laboratories   which follow this cycle   Looking > Seeing> Caring> Doing

Management perspective: The employer's angle

Since empowerment is a two way process and involves equal involvement of both employers perspective is very important .Since it is a development strategy following principles are necessary to be essential -

a) Determine people value
b) Share Leadership Vision
c) Share Goals and Direction
d) Trust People
e) Provide Information for Decision Making
f) Delegate Authority and Impact Opportunities, Not Just More Work
g) Provide Frequent Feedback
h) Solve Problems: Don't Pinpoint Problem People
i) Help Employees Feel Rewarded and Recognized for Empowered Behavior to Learn and Ask Questions to Provide Guidance
j) Building team work –It should be result oriented, customer focus, partnership development, continuous innovation, commitment

Benefits of employee's empowerment

* Development of interpersonal, analytical, and leadership skills
* Instilling a quality consciousness among all employees
* Higher quality product
* More effective use of resources
* More individual job satisfaction
* Improved two-way communications between employees and their management

Management should understand primary aim for the company, obstacles for employee's productivity, sources of employee's motivation and knowing the empowerment level of the employees.

Obstacle in implementing empowerment

A) Negativism in reviewing employees recommendation
B) Fear is another negative emotion
C) Failure to respond  employee recommendation
D) Unclarity of the  concept of empowerment
E) Failure to provide strategic framework
F) Clear understanding  of training and feedback


Empowerment is one of the most effective ways of enabling employees at all levels to use their creative abilities to improve the performance of the organization they work for, and the quality of their own working life. Employee empowerment is a process whereby  a culture of empowerment is developed information—in the form of a shared vision, clear goals, boundaries for decision making, and the results of efforts and their impact on the whole is shared competency in the form of training and experience is developed; resources, or the competency to obtain them when needed to be effective in their jobs, are provided; and support in the form of mentoring, cultural support, and encouragement  of risk-taking is provided.

Companies have been forced to face the harsh reality that management cannot bestow empowerment any more than it can bestow self-esteem. Instead it must create an environment that allows employees to become empowered on their own.

Ms. Vijit Chaturvedi
Faculty (HRM)
ICFAI University

Source: E-mail April 9, 2008


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