Recent Trends in Human Resource Management

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Empowerment at Work

"An empowered organization is one in which individuals have the knowledge, skill, desire, and opportunity to personally succeed in a way that leads to collective organizational success." — Stephen R. Covey

The word "empower" has potency and strength. It's used frequently these days — some say, "Overused." It's also often misused. Similar to the concept of "motivation," the most common misuse of the idea of empowerment is that one person can empower another. Empowerment, as I use the word, is an inner-to-outer dynamic, most useful when preceded by silence and awareness of inner guidance. Empowerment is not simply another way to "get" something; it's a condition that supports you in living life fully.


Empowered Persons


Empowered persons are balanced, confident, aware, vital, caring, and ready. Those who are empowered are not depressed, confused, aggressive, divisive, or wishy-washy. Of course, even empowered persons have days or moments of confusion or frustration or doubt, but the predominant expression is one of confidence and strength and consideration of themselves and others. Also, empowerment can be situational, that is to say, you may feel and be empowered in one situation but not another.


Most people, though certainly not all, like to be in the presence of those who are truly empowered because the energy in and around them is contagious and healing. Empowered persons are eager to laugh and experience the moment in a way that helps others to find their own power. When empowered persons shine their light, others can more easily find their own light. The behavior of empowered persons is often imitated, but empowerment is not just a set of actions and behavior. Actions aligned with inner knowingness and strength are necessary for true empowerment. Enlightened consciousness is the source of empowered actions rather than the other way around. Since empowered persons are powered from the inside, they carry their power with them.


As I've mentioned above in a positive way, let me be clear here what empowered persons don't do: empowered persons don't get their power from other persons. Empowered persons don't hit or overpower or trample on others' rights, make malicious remarks, put others down, use derogatory humor, dominate meetings, or suppress others. Empowered persons don't give their power away to others — nor do they let others take their power (which is simply a variation on "giving away power).


To be empowered, you must release outdated beliefs, dense vibrations, repressed fears and resentments. To be empowered, you must replace disempowering beliefs with those that are empowering. To be empowered, you must be conscious of the focus of your attention, your thoughts, and your feelings. To be empowered, consider your own desires and beliefs and feelings as well as others' desires and beliefs and feelings. To be empowered, start where you are right now without feeling wrong or believing you need to be "fixed."


Empowered Organizations


Empowered organizations are composed of empowered persons, although it's not necessarily true that a group of empowered persons automatically creates an empowered organization. Organizations that are truly empowered have moved out of the old paradigm of negative competition and beliefs in limitation and scarcity. Many persons — including me — like to consider the empowered organization is one that is moving or has moved into a "new paradigm."
Empowered organizations in the new paradigm have transformed themselves so that they're able to demonstrate such characteristics as: clear and honest communications, collaboration within and between work units (usually called teams), shared responsibility in all aspects of task and process, and delivery of high quality products and services driven by customer/client needs.
Persons in empowered organizations are likely to talk about the "joy" of work and feeling "love" for their teammates, although such words may not be expressed nor are the expression of such words proof of empowerment.


Moving from There to Here


Most individuals agree with the desirability of concepts like "open communications," "collaboration," and "customer-driven" goals. However, established norms often prevent embodying the actions that bring these concepts into fruition. Distrust still prevails in many organizations, especially those faced with downsizing efforts that have been or are being carried out with brutal methods. Belief that an organization is in business for the sole purpose of earning money keeps organizations stuck in dysfunctional patterns.


It's important to respect where an individual or organization is right now. Simply pushing a new paradigm on an old one doesn't work. Lasting change happens from the inside out. The organizational structure of the old paradigm is linear and vertical: top-down and bottom-up. Ignoring the chain of command is an offense in many traditional organizations, reinforcing this linear approach.


As organizations downsize or otherwise change their structure, the linear and vertical movement tends to change to horizontal and circular. The old approach of looking to see what the one at the top of the organization wants shifts to looking inside to discern what serves the highest good with the help of intuition. Some of the popular names for the new organizations that are in alignment with this horizontal-circular-inward formation are: "team," "cluster," "learning organization," "circles," and "networks."


With my window of looking at energy fields and working with energetic principles, I find the "flattening" of organizations to be exciting and forward-moving. The flattening (eliminating layers of management and other realignments) may not feel very positive when it's happening, but the end results can be extremely positive. Out of the chaos grow the new forms and patterns of working and being together to do business. Chaos theory that has emerged over the last few years can help you to understand this act of discovery and creation of all kinds of systems.


Chaos theory also helps you to understand paradigms: old, new, and emerging. A new form or pattern or paradigm emerges when the old one no longer works. For those of you who find my definition of paradigms too simplistic, I encourage you to read one or more of the following books.

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