Words of Wisdom

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The Real Meaning Of Empowerment

The Real Meaning Of Empowerment

“Be of service. Whether you make yourself available to a friend or co-worker, or you make time every month to do volunteer work, there is nothing that harvests more of a feeling of empowerment than being of service to someone in need.” Gillian Anderson

Everyone seems to be talking about empowerment these days as the cure-all for under-achieving organizations and employees. Employers, department heads, and private and government leaders who do not endorse it are considered outdated and damned.

But wait, If  empowerment were the magic potion guaranteeing success, why didn’t we drink it long ago? The answer is – it does not guarantee success. But why? Because both employers and employees must be ready for it. Empowerment will succeed only if there is real readiness and commitment to facing these irritating issues:

Barriers between employees and their supervisors are not dealt with continuously.

“Effective communication is 20% what you know and 80% how you feel about what you know.” Jim Rohn

“Skill in the art of communication is crucial to a leader's success. He can accomplish nothing unless he can communicate effectively.”

Communication is the key to growth and success. When communication break down, failure is likely. Open communication between people allows a free flow of ideas and thoughts. Everyone is clear on where they stand, and what each person wants and expects from the others. By expressing our thoughts and ideas, we can begin to see the reality of our situation. When we have the freedom to speak our minds, we begin to feel empowered. When there is clarity, proper action can follow.

Employees are rarely asked to recommend solutions.

“Make it a habit to tell people thank you. To express your appreciation, sincerely and without the expectation of anything in return. Truly appreciate those around you, and you'll soon find many others around you. Truly appreciate life, and you'll find that you have more of it.” Ralph Marston

People thrive when they feel they are respected and appreciated. That is why listening to customers is critical to the success of any business. When employees cab speak up and freely voice their opinions, they feel empowered, even if their ideas are not always implemented.

Want to motivate your staff? Empower your employees—don’t delegate. The result? Increased job performance and company success.

Abilities remain untapped.

“Often the difference between a successful person and a failure is not one has better abilities or ideas, but the courage that one has to bet on one's ideas, to take a calculated risk - and to act.” Andre Malraux

Few of us can duplicate the brilliance of Leonardo da Vinci, but each of us can get closer to meeting our potential. The desire to explore possibilities is not limited to geniuses: The keys are persistence, focus, and hard work. Ability is only  potential until it is tapped. As we learn how to best apply our own gifts, we can better see talents in others and how to help them become all they can be.

Employee never initiate action, but wait for orders and directions.

“Initiative is doing the right things without being told” Elbert Hubbard

“You cannot build character and courage by taking away man's initiative and independence.” Abraham Lincoln

“Success depends in a very large measure upon individual initiative and exertion, and cannot be achieved except by a dint of hard work.” Anna Pavlova

Most people resist new ways.

Refusal to accept change causes stagnation. When people resist this natural flow of life, they move backwards. Businesses that resist change lose to competitors. To change when needed is the essence of growth.

“When we allow deep-seated habits to control our lives, we work against ourselves.”

Employers spend little time or money on training.

Training is the vehicle for change. Plans and goals without training are useless. To fail to train is to deny the importance of preparation, productivity and profit.

Most people who leave are keepers.

More often than not, people who leave go on to what they believe will be a better opportunity. Most of the time when this happens, these people are valuable now, and would be in the future. The ones we should be most concerned about are the poor performers who will never leave unless pushed out. They are the cause of low productivity, bad morale, and poor customer relationships.

Policy manuals and rulebooks are getting bigger and bigger.

It takes time and energy to read and understand rules and regulations. More rules mean less time that can be devoted to more creative endeavors. More rules also decrease the size of the box we must work within.  People who like to think outside the box must spend more time to reach beyond the imposed limits of rules and regulations. Rules create a “safe” environment because you know exactly what you can and can’t do. The “it’s not my job” syndrome does nothing to empower people or encourage them to explore their potential. More often than not, people hide behind rules and use them as an excuse to explain why something didn’t happen as it should.

People who don’t improve receive the same compensation as those who do.

When people are not paid based on merit and accomplishments, you favor idlers. The best employees then believe you don’t appreciate the difference between them and the problem people. This is the easiest way to squelch initiative. They feel powerless in an environment that does not recognize them. Boredom, frustration, and resentment lead to departure at the first opportunity.

More time is spent talking about bad situations than fixing them.

Some people just like to complain. Complaining is easier than finding a solution because it requires little thought and takes no energy. Improvement always requires initiative and added work. To improve a bad situation, someone must be willing to come foreward, take charge and be a leader. Many people would prefer to sit backstage and criticize others who are attempting to solve problems. Empowered people have the confidence and self-esteem to withstand criticism. Getting the job done is more important to them than being liked.

“Winners measure improvement. Losers hope for miracles.”

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