IN LIFE, there are two choices you must grapple with, and that is whether you succeed or fail.

For some, success comes later on after much perseverance and hard work.

For others, they learn to move on when the decisions they make are not working well and they have to pursue other alternatives.

Empowerment recognises that nobody knows a job better than the person doing it and that most people want to be involved and take pride in their work.

Empowerment is an extremely effective tool for developing both the people and the organisations that they work for. It is a vital element of the business environment.

Knowing your customer, improving service delivery, continuous innovation, increased productivity and gaining competitive advantage — none of this is possible unless organisations find new ways to empower their employees.

Although it will benefit organisations, the question most people will ask is: “What’s in it for me?”

So how much will you get out of it? What does empowerment really mean to you? What can managers do to empower the people they work with?

What empowerment is

Empowering people encourages them to become more involved in their decisions and the activities that affect their jobs.

It means giving them the opportunity to unleash their creative talents to show that they can come up with good ideas and, more importantly, to empower them to put these ideas into practice.

The concept of empowerment involves the following steps:

* Encourage people to play a more active role in their work;

* Involve them in taking responsibility for improving the way that things are done; and

* Enable them to make more and bigger decisions without having to refer to someone more senior in the organisation.

Why it is necessary

Empowerment is necessary to transform the way you work with people in the organisation, and there are two reasons for this.

One, the external environment has changed.

Two, people themselves have changed in their personalities over a period of time.

The external environment has changed so rapidly that intense competition abounds all around.

All businesses are, to a greater or lesser extent, influenced and affected by the competitive environment.

New competition from overseas represents a substantial threat, while many businesses set their sights on exploiting opportunities in the global market.

Organisations need empowered people to help them fight off these competitive threats.

Offer training

Organisations can develop and offer training programmes on people skills that train employees on the job.

People are more empowered by development that occurs on the job than they would be by going for courses. It is because they will learn more quickly and effectively if what they are doing is practical and relevant.

As a manager in your organisation, you may decide that all employees will need some form of training to meet identified needs and expectations.

You will find that developing people in the workplace is useful because:

* It is not only cheap and relevant but also easy to organise; and

* Involvement is crucial for all employees.

Lead by example

If you want your peers to do what they say they will do, you will have to prove yourself to be reliable.

If you want to be innovative, you will have to be prepared to take risks.

If you want others to make an extra effort, you will have to push yourself harder.

If you want them to be open, you will have to be honest and sincere with yourself first.

These are all the traits of empowerment, and managers need to delegate the responsibilities to their employees to accomplish it. What a better way of proving it when you are given the opportunity to lead by example!

Listen and question

Make a conscientious effort to listen to what the other person is telling you and to understand what he is trying to say. Empowered people are aware of the significance of listening and questioning.

If you make a point of asking people what they think and of actively listening to what they say, you will help make them feel that they can contribute something of value to their work and business.

Sell your ideas

People love challenges, and part of the empowerment process involves unleashing their creativity.

Once that creativeness has taken shape, they sell their ideas to people to generate more wealth and income for the organisation.

To unlock this potential, managers must be willing to empower their employees to reach greater creative heights. Leaders and managers should heed the call to make empowerment a way of life for every employee.