When managers see their employees as assets, says Cornell University personnel specialist Robert Mulligan, there is a great opportunity to increase productivity. Empowerment, he says, enables personnel to use their knowledge, skills and potential to positively impact business success. He offers the following guidelines to help managers empower their employees.
- The success of empowerment is first and foremost the responsibility of the supervisor.
- The supervisor must provide an environment where their employees can utilize their knowledge and abilities – give the employees power without feeling threatened. This will seldom occur if the supervisor believes there is limited power to go around.
- Similar to power, the supervisor must not be threatened by the success of others. Supervisors should, in fact, believe they are succeeding when others succeed.
- The supervisor must have great self confidence. Feelings that power and success are limited are much more likely when a person lacks self-confidence. Continual learning and practice are the best ways to increase the supervisor’s self confidence.
- The view of failure in the farm’s culture is crucial. Everyone has a fear of failure. If the culture enhances that fear, empowerment is unlikely to succeed. If the culture enables individuals to overcome their fear of failure by supporting them to correct and learn from mistakes, empowerment can flourish.
- Sharing of information is critical. Employees will not feel empowered if they know information is being withheld. Further, empowerment will be less successful because withholding information is another way of withholding power.
- A culture of learning is also critical. The supervisor must continue to develop his or her knowledge of empowerment, coaching and communication. As employees are empowered to use their knowledge and abilities, they will seek to improve their knowledge and abilities.