Empowering is a fashionable management term, a contemporary buzzword. EVEN politicians and ministers are talking about empowering- empowering the teachers by the Minister of education as an example.
Empowering means giving authority. As an adjective, empowering means giving a sense of authority. I like this more specific definition: giving authority to promote self actualization.
In a school or education environment, empowering is simply giving power to where it matters, i.e the end of the delivery chain, the teacher/student interface. To make the teachers feel empowered, thier needs are to be adressed. They need recognition, a higher salary, care and respect. I leave it to the good minister to put the program in place. HIGHER SALARY??? Isn't it an interesting proposition from a CEO? So do read on…..
Empowering can be achieved by removing beuracracy. This is achievable by pushing accountability and responsibility as far down as possible and where it matters in the delivery chain. Even the support or administrative unit are made accountable for thier deliverables.
In a business organization, or any organization for that matter, accountability, responsibility, organization structure, work processes, the right talents and the leadership committment are factors that determine the effectiveness of the EMPOWERING programme. Otherwise it is just another fancy term from the ceo to make him look savvy and knowledgeable.
The use of the financial reports as a tool in the empowering program, is something I am trying to do. How many staff understand the effect or consequence of his activity to the P&L and Balance Sheet? or how far down the line is it understood? Can it be made simple and connected to the process? It cannot be just the CEO or the CFO who is accountable and measured against the P&L.
Before that could be done, the organization must be structured to allow accountability at strategic leadership level, unit, division, SBU and company. Next is to relate all processes to the P&L and perhaps Balance Sheet : proposal, sales, projects, procurement, engineering etc.Therefore a sound accounting system and structure is a pre requisite. The inter unit transaction and process has to be in place and understood too. Each unit must have at least an accounting pesonnel to keep the figures. It may be cumbersome and seen as beuracratic initially but the returns are enormous.
Being small has a direct relationship to effective empowering. Developing The smallest possible unit to be empowered is the challenge. The smallest unit could be the individual. I am a desciple of this thought leader Chales Handy, small and yet Big, big and yet small.
In my empowering program, four important messages are continuously transmiited and reinforced. Firstly, Business is simple i.e Profit=Selling Price – Buying Price- Beuracracy. Sell high, buy low and reduce the beuracracy, something you learn at standard three.
Secondly, Trustworthiness and honesty are important selection criteria at the point of recruitment. It is also made known that those are values upheld by the organization. At recruitment, those who are not trustworthy will do thier own self elimination if the criteria is spelt out in the advertisement. Cut out the crooks outside our territory.
Thirdly, It has to be made known that the organization subscibe to the eye for an eye principle or the HUDUD. Cheats, corrupts, and failure to be accountable will be severely dealt with by the law of the land.
Last and but not least the unit is empowered to determine thier own salary. I believe there is no better way to empower a person then through his or her pocket. They have thier figures to justify it to the stakeholdersaslong as thier KPIs are met.
Tools are of course essential. How technology has empowered people: from the humble handphone to the mobile notebook and off course accessiblity of information through the internet.
The CEO is usully seen as on who does not wish to relinquish power. Take it from me, there are many down there who do not wish to assume power for fear of being accountable at least officially or for whatever reason. Have you heard of upward delegation? There are many down there who are in the comfort zones ready for instructions. Who says empowering is easy.