I must confess that the idea for this blog was not mine. It was the idea of a good friend and business partner, Ian MacMillan.
Empowerment is a really hot topic nowadays. It has been for a while. It’s very popular for companies to be able to claim that they “empower their employees”. Everyone feels good about this. It sounds good after all, even if you’re not sure what “empower” means you almost feel cool to be able to say “I’m empowered”. What does it mean in the practical sense? Well, the theory is that you are given responsibility (read power). You are accountable for a specific set of deliverables. You are in control! I can tell, you feel good already don’t you(?).
So, that’s the theory, now for some practice. Many are cynics of empowerment, simply through common misuse of the word. Some might even say that Empowerment equals Abandonment. I don’t believe this but I do believe that it happens. In fact, I know it does from personal experience. So how do you know whether you’ve been empowered abandoned? To start with you’ll have a line manager who, previously, was a firm believer in delegation – this is always a good start. What has happened in recent times is that delegation has got a bad name. It suggests hierarchy. It suggests “Us & Them”, the management and the workers. Keen to dispel this way of working many have adopted empowerment as a direct replacement to delegation.
Empowerment is a good thing but it’s not something to be taken lightly. You, as the empowered, need support. You need someone to call when you want to check something. There’s nothing wrong with checking. contrary to popular belief it says nothing about your own ability to “grab the bull by the horns”, rather it shows that [a] you know that you’re not infallible and [b] you appreciate input from others. We’re all different. We approach decisions in different ways and it’s important to surround yourself with people who do think differently as this is the only way to ensure that you broaden your experience rather than deepen it.
So, to draw to a close before the readers’ attention deteriorates too far Empowerment is good, Abandonment is bad. Consider your own situation and whether you’re comfortable in it. If you’re not, you need to change it. This means one of two things. Change it within the environment that you presently work or change yourself out of the environment in which you presently work. Note, you are in control of both of these. If you can’t effect the former then it’s either because you’re not the right person to do it, or the organisation isn’t right for the change. If the latter here then you need to heed the semi-hidden message here.
Sometimes, who must do what’s right for the organisation rather than what you think is right, perhaps what you know it’s right. No-one can move mountains, so don’t try. Focus your energies on something that is achievable, this benefits everyone.
About the Author:
My background and experience is mainly project management within diverse environments such as large corporate financial institutions, medium-sized technology consultancies and smaller start-ups. Having held positions including Operations Director (COO) and Head of Process Management, I recently decided that the time is right to take a calculated risk and leave corporate life for good…the entrepreneurial side of my character is prevailing.
My focus is on becoming an “Un-natural Entrepreneur”. I want to work with people and companies that have vision. I can offer key values and skills to help bring your ideas to fruition. If you are a “starter”, then I am your “finisher”. My approach to a challenge is to clarify, understand, problem-solve, develop and deliver.
To take an idea or concept through from its inception to its execution requires a consultative approach – a partnership. I am a rational and pragmatic thinker and can work within an existing management structure, or create a new management team through my extensive network.