When we talk about 'people empowerment' we include people in every walk of life.
Organizations should have "Empowering People to Drive Productivity"- or something similar - as their mission. Empowerment is critical to increasing productivity to the ultimate advantage of organizations.
Strategic human resource management is about "empowering people" so that they have some form of control over what they are doing and what they want to accomplish in life, and achieve what are required of them particularly when they are at work. Having some form of control over what they are doing gives people motivation.
Paying good wages can motivate people but they become more motivated when they are empowered.
Making resources available and implementing enabling organizational infrastructures in the form of sound and clear policies, rules, systems and procedures are necessary for empowering people.
People empowerment also allows people to take calculated risks to a reasonable extent. Here, you will need effective risks management capabilities, skills and system. Employees themselves need to educate themselves in these skills. Provide them with such skills and knowledge.
When applied to the workplace, people empowerment would refer specifically to employees. Thus, "employee empowerment."
What does this involve? Productivity is the means by which your organization achieves positive financial outcomes. And high productivity means, among others, lower costs and higher revenue. This is the objective of each and every profit-oriented organizations.
However, productivity does not mean manipulating people to the advantage of employers.
People Empowerment through Education
In education it means ensuring school-going children are provided with well-rounded learning, that is, holistic education. Education would include self-management skills and other skills necessary for "living," that is, in addition to being highly literate.
Education needs to make school children or students feel and believe that they will have some form of control over their future lives. This is about people empowered by education and who are able to pursue their chosen career.
Empowerment in One's Life
To empower people also means helping adults in facing the various challenges in their lives. For example, effective parenting skills are essential in the face of increasing threats to the family institution.
Survival skills in the face of economic turmoil and threats to one's sources of food are necessary. This includes personal finance management skills.
It means helping citizens of whatever belief or cultural background to have control over events in their daily lives. This includes giving them the opportunity to improve their lot, to have access to college education and pursue careers of their choice, to choose what they want to believe, and so on.
Need for Ethical Use of Knowledge
Knowledge and skills acquisition will go a long way in realizing the aims of empowerment. This is the information age. There is no reason why people cannot improve their station in life.
In the case of employees, ensure that they get the opportunity to fully develop their potentials. Give them the chance to improve and prove themselves.
Productivity can mean output or efficiency.
Productivity is the result of what you and your people do. It is the fruit of the one's hard work and sweat. Empowerment contributes to this state of things.
Some writers define 'productivity' as: "The ratio of output (goods and services) produced per unit of input (productive resources) over some period of time."
Plan in order to obtain positive results. Use the right strategies to ensure that employees can accomplish what are expected of them and, at the same time, receive the fruits of their endeavors.
Management team needs to take initiatives to empower people. Empowered employees are more productive. But higher productivity calls for better rewards to entrench the right behaviors.
Effectiveness and Efficiency
Effectiveness refers to how well you and your people can perform tasks and achieve planned targets.
Efficiency improvement requires implementation of enabling processes and procedures, policies and rules.
These must support employees as they go about performing their duties and responsibilities on a daily basis.
"Enabling" means helping or facilitating the accomplishment of a desired result or something that allows people to do things the right way to attain certain objectives.
Measurement of the results will determine the effectiveness of these policies, rules, procedures and practices. This indicates whether organizational objectives are achieved.
The results normally refer to the productivity level as compared to the defined targets.
Once you know these you can take action depending on the outcomes.
Empowered People have Positive Impacts on the Bottom-line
Here, people refers to your employees, your human resource. They are your most important asset. Without them your organization cannot achieve much.
To empower means providing all the means that will help your people achieve what you want them to accomplish.
This means giving them the necessary authority to do things and to make decisions within the area of their daily tasks and responsibilities.
Clearly define the conditions under which you allow employees to exercise such authority.
The more senior the position of the employee is, the more authority you can give.
Ensure that a monitoring system is in place or implement a system of checks and balances. Review the position at the first sign of misuse of authority.
Where you consider it necessary, make the exercise of certain authority subject to compulsory vetting by a superior, a supervisor or a manager. Make this as part of your risks management strategy.
However, allow employees to make mistakes that are very critical to the activities of the organization.
You may have quality employees but they are not able to accomplish the objectives of their jobs. What can you expect from mediocre (average) ones for apart from lack of enabling structures they have work apathy?
"Empowerment" can motivate even average employees.
Process of Empowerment
One of the instances under "people empowerment" is to delegate more responsibilities to your people.
Lack of trust hinders delegation.
Instead delegate and provide all the necessary support to maximize effectiveness and efficiency in implementing "people empowerment" in the workplace.
Why do you need to delegate?
You cannot do everything by yourself. You need the help of other people.
Besides motivating and developing employees, delegating will free valuable time that you can use to do other tasks that are important, urgent or need your time and attention more.
Principles of People Empowerment
One of the greatest benefit of empowerment is demonstrated by the Pygmalion Effect and the Galatea Effect. Employees self-expectation and your expectation of them show the power of expectation and trust in improving performance for the long-term.
There are many ways in empowering people. Practice these and your people will do their utmost to achieve the required targets.
People empowerment, however, is not for manipulation purposes.