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Employee empowerment sounds like a great concept when you first think about it. Of course, it’s good to give employees the ability to control their own work from day to day. Managers will have an easier time, and employees will be a lot happier. That’s why it’s such a surprise to many people when employee empowerment programs fail. In fact, they can actually make the situation worse!

This is all because of the way they’re handled. You see, in many cases, the managers don’t really understand what employee empowerment means. They don’t really want to give the employees the power to take care of their own work. Whether it’s because the manager doesn’t trust the employee to be truly empowered, or doesn’t know how to manage except for very closely, this kind of behavior is incredibly destructive. It leaves employees feeling as though they’ve been tricked, and they’re a lot more likely to head to the career counselor for some career advice, or start looking for a career change.

Managers who pay lip service to the effectiveness of their employees, but don’t believe in really letting go of the reins, are sabotaging their own efforts. You see, managers define the decision making authority of the staff, and they set the boundaries. There’s nothing wrong with this, as long as they stick to those boundaries. But when a staff member is told they have total control over the project (for good or for bad) they’re likely to feel resentful and undermined when their manager comes by and tries to micromanage.

Employees in empowered situations have the ability and responsibility to make their own decision. If the manager is going to truly allow the employee to be empowered, he or she has to let go of the accountability and responsibility for that decision. Looking over an employee’s shoulder is the most effective way to encourage them to make a career chance. If you don’t want to be sending your employees out for career advice, you need to avoid getting in their way.

Empowered employees can be a huge benefit to an organization. They have the authority and the ability to make their own decisions, and they usually do it right. This allows the company to avoid spending time and effort watching employee actions, and use that energy to improve operations. However, when managers aren’t willing to trust those employees with their power, empowerment programs are sure to fail. Don’t fall into the micromanaging trap. Let your employees have the authority to make their own decisions.

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