Employee Empowerment Challenges

Do you have thoughts about the challenges inherent in employee empowerment? Employee empowerment is a strategy and value that I support.

I’ve sought ideas for effective implementation my entire consulting career. In my core beliefs, when managers and employees experience the power of employee empowerment, they want to live that way, too. The challenge is in the details.

Many companies talk about  employee empowerment as their desired relationship with their employees. But employee empowerment is much harder to carry out in the daily work environment. Not every employee can contribute to every decision and there is always a manager or director you report to who may have a different vision for a program or project.

Overall company decisions may influence your work area and even your daily tasks. The current economic situation may also infringe upon your feelings of empowerment as company leaders make decisions with which you disagree – or worse, without you – for the good of the overall company.  It’s a wonder to me sometimes, how any company gets empowerment right. These are some of the factors that make empowerment difficult:

  • Managers need to release power to employees. This is hard when you’re still responsible for the results – or maybe you just like being in charge and making all of the decisions. Some managers feel safer in charge.
  • Employees miss deadlines, plan and work on pet projects and neglect the contribution you most need from them. Excuses and “not  my faults” can drive you crazy.
  • Boundaries of decision making are the biggest challenge. Where does my decision making leave off and yours begin? Unfortunately, rather than addressing this persistent issue in empowerment,  most organizations navigate this problem hit-or-miss. This leaves employees unwilling to make decisions, unempowered when their decisions are over-ridden, and managers who ask, “Why won’t the people who report to me act empowered?” Right.

Okay, those are some of  my thoughts about employee empowerment. What is your experience of employee empowerment from a managerial or employee point of view? Is employee empowerment worth the commitment and trust?

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