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Today, over 70 per cent of organisations have implemented some form of empowerment scheme. Most organisations adopt empowerment after learning its effectiveness in enhancing organisational growth. Consequently, the empowerment process is implemented systematically (Fineman 2008).
In present global business environment, organisations should make use of creativity, energy, ideas, and knowledge of every employee to be successful. Institutions thus require empowering their employees to achieve this goal. Empowerment refers to a situation where employees are given the authority to make decisions on issues affecting their operations without having to rely on the management team.
Empowerment helps employees take initiatives and make decisions without prodding. Moreover, empowerment ensures that staff members attend to organisational interests with minimal supervision (Grey 2005).
Empowerment encourages employee autonomy within an organisation. Consequently, it facilitates in enhancing employee creativity and innovativeness. With the current rate of technological growth and organisational changes, empowerment will be the ultimate tool of dealing with uncertainties and ambiguity (Clampitt & Dekoch 2001).
Moreover, it will help in enhancing employee motivation and assuming control over employees (Handy 1999). This paper will discuss how empowerment can help in exploiting uncertainty and tackling ambiguity, and how it can facilitate in enhancing motivation and taking control of employees.
Many people perceive organisational structure as an outcome or a superficially caused phenomenon (Jackson & Carter 2007). This perception asserts that the demand of environment, technology, and size put forth impulsive effects on organisational structuring with the human resources playing an insignificant role in dictating how the organisation is to be structured.
In addition, there is a belief that uncertainty is one of the factors that influence organisational structure. The more the technology, size, and the environment lead to uncertainty, the more an organisation works towards changing its traditional bureaucratic structure to embrace a more decentralised structure (Jackson & Carter 2007).
According to Busche, Havlovic, and Coetzer (2004), task level acts as the major unit for assessing the correlation between organisational structure and uncertainty. Experimental studies have produced dependable results that support decentralisation of authority as one of the best methods of addressing uncertainty in organisations.
Thompson (2004) posits, “Uncertainty appears as the fundamental problem for complex organisations and coping with uncertainty, as the essence of the administrative process” (p. 159).
Based on the idea of organisational shrewdness, Thompson attempts to bring “together a closed system and an open environment and suggests that organisations try to protect their technical foundation from environmental variations through levelling, buffering, or by forecasting uncertainty” (Milliken 2006, p.139).
Rather than seeing uncertainty as a threat to an organisation and looking for alternative ways to circumvent it, it is imperative for the firm to embrace uncertainty and make good out of it. Organisations ought to see uncertainty as both a threat and an opportunity and make use of the opportunity (Clampitt & Dekoch 2001).
Embracing uncertainty helps a firm overcome overconfidence, promote flexibility, encourage innovativeness, and reduce frustrations (Knights & Willmott 2007). Empowerment gives employees the mandate and responsibility of making swift decisions based on information they obtain from a firm. Consequently, empowerment may help an institution exploit high levels of uncertainty (Knights & Willmott 2007).
Currently, organisations are facing immense uncertainties with respect to technological changes, and as they strive to outshine others in the market, they are coming up with innovations every now and then (Wall et al. 2002). Moreover, firms are coming up with novel operation structures to ease operations (Wall et al. 2002).
For firms using the traditional organisational structures, it is hard to cope with these uncertainties since the structure promotes bureaucracy, thus taking long for an organisation to make critical decisions. Empowerment allows employees to make critical decisions without having to consult their seniors.
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Consequently, they are capable of coming up with strategies to cope with potential challenges. In instances where employees are uncertain of what will befall an institution in the near future, empowerment helps them come up with a contingent of measures to mitigate the effects of any eventualities (Eisenberger et al. 2008).
Some of the measures devised by employees would help an organisation enhance its productivity even in the absence of eventualities; hence, it takes advantage of uncertainty by making use of the established measures to enhance its productivity (Ford & Fottler 2004). Failure to empower employees makes it hard for an institution to come up with strategies to mitigate future eventualities.
Empowering employees makes them feel as part of the organisation; hence, they channel all their energy to ensuring its sustained growth (Ford & Fottler 2004). Employees always think about the future of the organisation and project some of the uncertainties that may affect it in the future (Linstead et al. 2004).
In an environment where employees are not empowered, they wait for the management to direct them on what to do. Such employees work for money and are never committed to seeing the organisation grow (Fornes et al. 2008). Such employees hardly think about the future of the firm and uncertainties catch them unawares.
The size of an organisation plays a significant role when it comes to its operations. An institution with numerous departments takes more time to complete a single project than one with fewer departments (Forrester 2000). Normally, information has to flow through the different departments to ensure that they all work together in achieving organisational goals (Rosenfeld & Wilson 1999).
Consequently, it takes time for information to reach the staff in the lowest department if a firm has numerous departments. In this case, there are numerous uncertainties in bigger organisations than smaller ones. At times, employees may fail to attend to some responsibilities simply because they do not know how the management will respond.
All these uncertainties caused by the size and management structure of an organisation may have severe effects ultimately (Hammuda & Dulaimi 2004).
Empowerment may help the organisation exploit the uncertainties. Since empowerment allows different departments to make decisions and not wait for the senior departments, it would be possible for a firm to grab any opportunity as it occurs. Departments would freely run their operations without fearing if the management will disapprove their decisions.
Furthermore, in an instance where employees are torn between taking a particular initiative that they feel might be productive and waiting for the management team to instruct them on what to do, empowerment would help an organisation make better use of the employees’ skills (Kandula 2004).
In such a case, employees would take their initiative without having to wait for the management thus cushioning the company from the uncertainties involved. One of the drawbacks of uncertainty is that it leads to frustrations. Employees may be in a position to assist a company respond to an eventuality, but fail to do so because they are uncertain of the reaction from the management (Kandula 2004).
Later, employees and management may enter into tag of war with each blaming the other for the outcome. Failure to solve the matter amicably may lead to both parties getting frustrated (Lynn & Akgun 2005). Empowerment helps an organisation in exploiting such uncertainties. It helps employees use their creativity to devise a mechanism to address challenges without waiting for directions from the management.
Employees encounter numerous ambiguities in their daily operations (Lynn & Akgun 2005). One of the ambiguities is the role ambiguity. Role theory defines role ambiguity as “the lack of specificity and predictability for an employee’s job or role functions and responsibility” (Shalley & Gilson 2004, p.35). Role ambiguity arises whenever people are not aware of what they are expected to do in the organisation.
Today, firms are continuously flattening their organisational charts. They are gradually doing away with middle management positions and distributing their duties to other employees (Shalley & Gilson 2004). The flattening of organisational charts is leading to the emergence of role ambiguity within institutions.
Most of the employees find themselves infringing into the duties of other employees or not attending to their duties inadvertently (Milliken 2006). With every institution struggling to achieve total quality management, it is hard for some of them to realise this with the existing level of role ambiguity (Milliken 2006).
Organisations can use empowerment to tackle role ambiguity. Through empowerment, employees are enlightened on their areas of jurisdiction. Hence, they ensure that they attend to all their duties and do not infringe into the duties of other staff, therefore avoiding confrontations within a firm (Ripley & Ripley 2004).
Empowerment gives employees the power to make all decisions on matters affecting their areas of specialisation without waiting for the management team to give the green light (Thomas & Velthouse 2005).
Consequently, empowerment helps in solving role ambiguity in instances where employees may be torn between letting the management make decisions on matters affecting their areas of specialisation and going on to make decisions by themselves.
Empowerment is an attitude that believes in inspiring people’s works and giving them the right to exercise control and assume responsibility for results of their efforts (Thomas & Velthouse 2005). An institution that advocates for staff empowerment insists on individual participation, proper information, and independence for organisational success (Singh 2003).
Empowerment facilitates in establishing independence for employees, permitting the distribution of tasks and control at all levels, boosting employee self-esteem, and invigorating the employees for better organisational performance (Singh 2003).
Empowerment is one of the inherent motivations, which entail positively valued skills from which an individual benefits directly from a responsibility (Singh 2003). Empowered employees view themselves as having autonomy, freedom, prudence, and are confident of their capacities (Singh 2003).
One of the factors that demotivate employees is issuing commands when directing them at work (Somers 2007). Normally, employees like an environment where they are given the freedom to make decisions on matters affecting their operations (Somers 2007). Empowerment motivates employees since it gives them the freedom to make decisions on matters affecting the organisation (get something on motivation theory).
Besides, it fosters creativity and innovativeness in employees. Giving employees the power to run their departments autonomously makes them believe that the management trusts in their capabilities (Thomas & Velthouse 2005). Consequently, the employees take the initiative to come up with innovative methods of enhancing efficiency in their areas of specialisation thus improving organisational productivity.
Empowerment nurtures confidence within the employees; hence, it makes them dare to engage in challenging activities, which the management could not have allowed them venture into without first taking them through training (Thomas & Velthouse 2005).
Empowerment leads to employees assuming responsibility for various tasks within the institution. Besides, they are accountable for all that happens in their areas of specialisation. This should motivate them to give their best as a way of expressing their commitment to the firm.
According to motivator-hygiene theory by Frederick Herzberg, workers feel motivated by factors like recognition, sense of accomplishment, and responsibility (Thompson 2004). On the other hand, factors like company policies, poor working conditions, and perceived interaction with supervisors demotivate staff.
Employees are normally uncomfortable working under the supervision of their managers or supervisors (Thompson 2004). In an institution where employees work under strict supervision, they have limited capability of exercising their autonomy (Thompson 2004). Consequently, it becomes hard for such employees to try new ideas, which could help in enhancing their efficiency.
One of the reasons that make employees move from one organisation to another is lack of satisfaction (Wall et al. 2002). Employees leave and move to another organisation where they are empowered. Employees feel satisfied whenever they realise that they are capable of meeting organisational goals.
They only achieve this satisfaction if they have the capacity to try different operation methods and select the one that suits their operations (Wall et al. 2002). Empowerment motivates employees since it gives them an opportunity to work on enhancing their efficiency independently. In other words, it instils the sense of accomplishment in employees whenever their initiatives bear fruits.
Besides employee motivation, empowerment helps organisations to gain control of their staff with respect to curbing turnover. Whenever employees are not satisfied, they tend to move out and look for an institution that serves their interests (Ford & Fottler 2004).
Empowerment creates a stable working environment for employees, thus making them contented (Ford & Fottler 2004). Besides, employees see themselves as part of the company and thus become loyal to the organisation. Empowerment promotes flexibility within an institution giving employees an opportunity to expand their skills.
Empowerment facilitates in employee growth and development. It gives employees an opportunity to expand their knowledge in different areas (Milliken 2006). One of the factors that promote employee motivation is getting a chance to develop skills in their areas of specialisation (Milliken 2006).
Employees like it when they are encouraged to undertake challenging assignments for this move not only adds to their experience, but also boosts their confidence (Thomas & Velthouse 2005). Empowerment promotes employee training and development, thus helping employees improve their capacity. Empowerment paves room for employees to interact with their managers freely (Thomas & Velthouse 2005).
Hence, they get a chance to request for facilities and training they require to expand their knowledge. Besides helping employees increase their knowledge, empowerment minimises chances of direct confrontation between employees and their managers (Kandula 2004).
This aspect in return motivates employees to participate in decision-making processes. Whenever employees partake in a decision making process, they freely embrace the decisions made since they feel that they also contributed towards the same (Kandula 2004).
One may think that only rewards facilitate in staff motivation. Nevertheless, rewards only add to employee motivation and are not the only elements that contribute to motivation. Employee recognition and participation in decision-making processes are some of the factors that contribute to motivation (Ripley & Ripley 2004).
Acknowledging employees’ contribution in a firm motivates them leading to their commitment. On the other hand, involving them in decision-making makes they feel valued thus encouraging them to give their best.
Empowerment is one of the strategies that facilitate in enhancing organisational growth. It facilitates in exploiting uncertainty, tackling ambiguity, and motivating employees. Changes in technology, organisational environment, and size lead to numerous uncertainties. It becomes hard for employees to forecast future eventualities that might affect the company.
Empowerment gives an institution a chance to exploit these uncertainties. As staff members try to prepare for future eventualities, they come up with numerous strategies, which help the organisation in enhancing its efficiency. Apart from facilitating in uncertainty exploitation, empowerment helps firms to overcome role ambiguity, which may affect organisational performance.
Currently, organisational changes are pushing firms to do away with some of the traditional middle positions. In return, organisations are distributing the duties that were once performed by individuals in these positions to other staff members. Through empowerment, employees understand their roles and thus reduce chances of confrontation between staff in different departments.
Besides, it helps in ensuring that staff members attend to all their responsibilities. Moreover, empowerment promotes employee growth through training and education. Employees are motivated to acquire new skills.
In other words, empowerment establishes a stable environment that encourages employees to continue working for the organisation. The autonomy that comes with empowerment fosters innovation and creativity, thus helping the employees to come up with ways of enhancing their efficiency in service delivery or production of goods.
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