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Characteristic # 3—Empowerment and Enablement

Empowerment is doubtlessly the most overused word in the management lexicon. Briefly, empowerment is

a management practice of sharing information, rewards, and power with employees so that they can take initiative and make decisions to solve problems and improve service and performance.6

Enablement means “to provide (someone) with adequate power, means, opportunity, or authority (to do something).”7 So together, empowerment and enablement are equipping people with the capacity to act. An employee’s capacity to act depends largely on the type of working relationship they have with their immediate boss. Specifically, it involves the authority the employees have been given by their manager to make decisions, and the amount of autonomy and freedom they have to action these decisions.

An agile enterprise is an organization with power spread evenly throughout, regardless of rank and status. To enable real empowerment, an organization’s decision-making processes must be decentralized, rather than centralized. Traditional notions of hierarchical power and ‘seniority’ stifle empowerment and enablement.

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