Empowerment: The Organization Giving up its Power
What happens when organizations give up their power to the people within them? The answer is ’empowerment’.
Watching this video is worth 2 Management Courses CPD Points*.
(See below for more details)
The Nature of Organizations
This video is part of course module number 6.1.3
Program 6: Managing within Organizations
Course 1: The Nature of Organizations
Section 3: Power in Organizations
Other videos in this section include:
What is Power? https://youtu.be/mIlnEkzIiHs
Amitai Etzioni: How Organizations Secure Compliance https://youtu.be/4mSdeda8elk
Robin Fincham: Three Levels of Organizational Power https://youtu.be/Qcd_UcHGCe8
The Power of Governance https://youtu.be/QI4pGksO4Ns
French and Raven: Social Power Bases in Organizations https://youtu.be/wLtTu8B0aek
‘a management process that grants people genuine control and authority to act and to make decisions within the workplace’
There are four important components to empowerment:
1. First the granting of power must be led by more senior managers than the people granted the power.
2. Second, there is no power unless those people’s peers endorse it.
3. Third, the meaning of power here is control and authority over your own work.
4. And fourth, the power granted persists beyond a narrow time frame or a specific task or context.
This last point separates true empowerment from a delegation of power for a specific purpose. Delegation is always temporary and situational.
The reality is that in modern organizations – especially, take a look at Handy’s Triple-I organization – https://youtu.be/gFRXiMkIg6k – managers need to give up a measure of control (and, therefore, power) to get results.
Empowerment has a number of direct benefits:
• Access to individual thinking and creativity
• Increased morale and motivation
• Greater sense of responsibility for work and therefore for outcomes
• Higher levels of job satisfaction (and, therefore, reduced stress) arising from a sense of autonomy and of achievement
There are risks and costs to empowerment too:
• Potential conflict from loss of clarity
• Breakdown of respect for hierarchy
• Demotivation of people who just want to be told what to do (see Theory X / Theory Y video: https://youtu.be/fS5iqEf1Azs)
The result is that you need to work hard to make a success of empowerment (as with everything else!):
• Performance feedback
• Recognition and reward for organizational outcomes
• Tolerance of failure and avoidance of blame culture
• Strong learning and personal development culture
Empowerment as a Power Base
So here is a speculation. If empowerment grants me power, then I have a power base that French and Raven were not aware of:
Empowered Power – based on socially endorsed organizational authority, granted by legitimate power
1. What is the level of empowerment at the organization where you work? Evaluate critically the effectiveness of this level of empowerment? (2 MC CPD Points)
2. Would you recommend an increase or decrease in the level of empowerment in your organizations? If so, what benefits would the change give? (2 MC CPD Points)
3. If you had to implement the changes above, how would you go about it? What would be your priorities? (2 MC CPD Points)
– Understanding Organizations https://geni.us/oB774Do
– Images of Organization https://geni.us/hrOemEs
– Inside Organizations: 21 Ideas for Managers https://geni.us/YwwL
– Gods of Management: The Four Cultures of Leadership https://geni.us/bpPeC5
Managers Need a Basic set of kit to do your job well. Here are my top recommendations: https://kit.co/MikeClayton/manager-s-work-kit (the links are affiliated)
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