I remember when I was first introduced to the word Empowerment. I was at a job where I saw it on posters, and the leaders talked about how they all empowered us, etc... I wasn’t actually sure what it was, maybe it is because English is not my native language. I thought it was something about being able to make decisions in the interest of the company, the employees, the customers and myself – do what is right and make the necessary decisions. However, I actually felt that I had to report all kinds of information all the time, needed to ask eight people to go to the bathroom (you know what I mean) and basically had a hard time doing my job and for sure did not feel empowered. Maybe I just misunderstood the meaning of empowerment. People who know me, do know that I make plenty of decisions and I do not always follow the guidelines, policies and procedures – hey, is that “Take Ownership” and “Think Outside the Box”?
Then I started my own business and suddenly Empowerment was relevant to look at again.
I discussed it in length with Andrew Bryant from our Board and also with Matt Petersen, ENAVATE's Distribution Industry Lead and Kelly Charlton, ENAVATE's Marketing Manager. I wanted different viewpoints and also wanted to gain a better understanding of what Empowerment actually is. I loved Andrew’s view. He said he hated the word because so many people are confused by it and said, “call it what it is – take ownership”. When discussing with Kelly and Matt, I asked if I was the problem. Maybe I was holding people back from making decisions, maybe I was being a micromanager without even knowing it or maybe something else. Their conclusion was that I wasn’t stopping people from taking ownership of their jobs. So together we concluded that people have different viewpoints of Empowerment – I thought I was giving the leaders and team members power to make decisions. However, Kelly and Matt felt it was more about supporting them and the rest making decisions, giving them confidence, etc... No wonder why Empowerment is so difficult for all of us.
I actually believe that Empowerment is one of the strongest strategies in business, however it is also the most misunderstood concept and very difficult to implement. When things seems to be difficult or even impossible, I tend to wake up😊. So I took this up with the Leadership and we spent significant time discussing Empowerment. We decided that we will go all in with Empowerment. We are going to change our business, the team members lives and in the end, help support our customers' businesses and their employees. Why? Because we care about making a difference!
If you look up Empowerment, you get different views on what is means:
From Wikipedia (and we should always trust that source😊)
The term empowerment refers to measures designed to increase the degree of autonomy and self-determination in people and in communities in order to enable them to represent their interests in a responsible and self-determined way, acting on their own authority. Empowerment as action refers both to the process of self-empowerment and to professional support of people, which enables them to overcome their sense of powerlessness and lack of influence, and to recognize and use their resources.
From Business Dictionary
A management practice of sharing information, rewards, and power with employees so that they can take initiative and make decisions to solve problems and improve service and performance.
Empowerment is based on the idea that giving employees skills, resources, authority, opportunity, motivation, as well holding them responsible and accountable for outcomes of their actions, will contribute to their competence and satisfaction.
Here is what Forbes says about the word: https://www.forbes.com/sites/lisaquast/2011/02/28/6-ways-to-empower-others-to-succeed/#23e352605c62
Over the next 24 months, we will implement True Empowerment and something we call Pods. I would like to invite you to follow us on our journey and be engaged in the conversation. The next 12 months I will do a monthly blog about our progress with the following headlines:
- What is Empowerment (this blog post)
- What does it mean for ENAVATE
- Key #1
- Key #2
- Key #3
- What the Hell is a Pod?
- Empowerment Rollout Plan
- Battle of Cultures
- Empowerment & Core Values
- Empowerment & Our Boundaries
- Value for the Customer
- Success & Failures
So what is Empowerment? I bought a lot of books, read many blogs, discussed it with leaders, team members, board members, my mentors, my CEO peers I know, etc... One book nailed it down for me - The 3 Keys to Empowerment by Ken Blanchard.
The book's definition:
- Release the knowledge, experience, and motivational power that people already have but underutilize
- A practice of sharing information, rewards, and power with employees so they can take initiative to solve problems and improve service and performance
- Based on the idea that giving employees skills, resources, authority, opportunity, motivation, as well holding them responsible and accountable for outcomes of their actions, will contribute to their growth and satisfaction
Based on the book's definition, we formed a Tiger Team and have had workshops with the leaders in order for us to come up with what Empowerment means for ENAVATE and also how we are going to roll out True Empowerment.
I am looking forward to sharing my thoughts with you over the next 12 months along with our successes and failures of creating an Empowerment culture.
About the Author - Thomas Ajspur
Thomas is a seasoned entrepreneur who began working with Microsoft Dynamics 25 years ago as an ERP user and implementer, and then utilized it as the system to run his own business. In 1999, Thomas joined the Microsoft Dynamics Professional Services industry with a focus on building ERP high performance organizations in Europe and the US and is known in the industry for selling large international AX deals. He is CEO of ENAVATE Holdings, LLC.