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02 Jan. 2012 | Comments (0)

We’ve covered a lot in our Empowerment series. Need a quick recap?

  • Part 1: What is empowerment?
  • Part 2: What are the business benefits of empowering your workforce?
  • Part 3: How does it impact people at different levels of an organization?
  • Part 4: And how can you leverage your talent management strategy and technology solution to create a culture of empowerment?

So to wrap things up, here are five best practices to help you move your organization beyond basic employment and robotic execution to true empowerment.

Step 1: Commit to creating an empowered workforce and culture.

Of course, before you can run, you have to walk. It’s critical to understand what empowerment means and why it’s important to your organization. Unlike the past, when work focus was on task execution and most people would work for a single employer, things have changed -- dramatically. Today, the majority of U.S. job growth has come from work requiring complex interaction with other people. Employers need people to be self-directed and self-motivated in completing work that is far more specialized and technical. If your organization fits that description, then it’s time to make the change to an empowered culture, one populated with what author Josh Bernoff, vice president of idea development at Forrester Research, calls HEROs -- Highly Empowered and Resourceful Operatives. Now is the time to make the commitment.

Step 2: Develop a business case for senior management.

No one can walk into the C-suite today and ask to make major change without explaining, in detail, how much that change will cost, and more importantly, how much it will add to revenues and profits. You must answer the questions: What is the return on investment? Or, why is this important for our organization? There is plenty of data out there regarding empowerment’s positive impact on business results. Firms such as Towers Watson, The Gallup Organization and Bersin & Associates all have research that clearly shows how empowerment and engagement can be great for business and how they’re more than just touchy-feely concepts promoted by HR. Most of all, it is critical to link empowerment to your specific organization and how it can make a difference. Data and research can help, but you have to make your own specific business case, too.

Step 3: Determine “empowerment” gaps within the organization and use the results wisely.

Of course, you can’t change what you can’t measure. So it’s important to use the right tools to take your organization’s pulse so you can determine any and all empowerment gaps. Some of the strategies include conducting employee and management surveys to benchmark where you are today and how you can identify areas for improvement. With this data, learning and HR leaders can enhance existing learning and talent strategies and create tailored, targeted employee empowerment initiatives and programs. Which brings us to the next point…

Step 4: Implement the processes, tools and systems needed to succeed.

There are four key areas -- learning and development, performance management, succession planning and career development, and enterprise social networking -- that are directly connected to the processes that can transform a routine, robotic-like work environment into one with energy and empowerment. For each area, technology must play a key role in creating and fostering the change to an empowered workforce. Solutions should be user-friendly and easily accessible. If not, they just won’t work. An integrated, tailored and accessible learning and talent management system can bring measureable gains in empowerment because it can influence the “engage-able moments” in the employee-employer life cycle. For example, those that occur during onboarding, goal setting and performance feedback, career discussions, senior leadership communications and other employee-manager interactions. Most of all, today’s technology can help create and mold the processes that reflect a truly empowered workplace. Technology won’t do it alone, but it will make sure you get there if used smartly.

Step 5: Encourage, foster and measure empowerment efforts.

If you manage to achieve the four above steps, you are well on your way (with many unexpected changes of direction, hurdles and pot holes to navigate, of course). But if you get those four steps accomplished, then the true challenge will be center stage. That is, continuing to foster a culture full of employees who feel that they have true autonomy, who care about mastery and have a purpose may achieve that elusive state of employment nirvana known as “engagement,” the fuel that stokes empowerment. Simply put: engaged employees care. They care about their work, their organization, their co-workers and their customers. They feel they have control, and they feel empowered to be part of the solution. Ultimately, companies with empowered employees outperform their competitors, so empowerment efforts can’t be left untended.

It starts with senior management commitment, but management across all levels must continue to set the tone, create the culture and make it work, because it will enable greatness in your now-empowered employees.

If you’re interested in reading more about this topic, download the white paper, “From Employment to Empowerment: Why Business Execution is Not Enough” and “The Empowered Workforce: Crucial to Success in the New Economy.”

Republished with permission by Cornerstone OnDemand.

  • About the Author:Charles Coy

    Charles Coy

    Charles Coy is responsible for developing Cornerstone OnDemand’s product positioning and messaging for the marketplace at-large as well as evangelizing Cornerstone’s innovation in talent m…

    Full Bio | More from Charles Coy


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