A business must empower its employees to become a Lean Enterprise!
I often hear the word â€œempowermentâ€ spoken when managers talk about implementing Lean principles. I know when they start using the word in every sentence that they read it in one of their recently purchased Lean books. Â However, it raises an interesting question. What is â€œempowerment?â€ What does it really mean, â€œTo empowerâ€ your employees?
At BusinessDictionary.com they define the meaning of â€œempowerment as:
â€œA 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. It is based on the concept of giving employees the skills, resources, authority, motivation, as well holding them responsible and accountable for outcomes of their actions.â€
I agree with this definition of the word “empowerment” but how many companies are actually practicing it? Well, in my humble opinion, not that many. Executive management teams throw the â€œempowermentâ€ word around like snowflakes in a winter blizzard. However, saying it is one thing but doing it is something else. I hear a lot of lip service around â€œemployee empowermentâ€ and not much evidence of it in action.
Empowerment is about allowing employees to make their own decisions within defined operational boundaries such as a prioritized implementation plan from a Value Stream Mapping event. It does not mean give the employees a free ticket to change anything at a whim. Telling employees what needs to change and allowing them the freedom to change it, is empowering them. Letting them loose in the hope that they will come up with something fantastic is setting them and the business up to fail.