Lesson 7: Empowering Workers
In order to achieve this thick culture the leader must work very hard at empowering workers to build it. Successful leaders spend a great deal of their time and energy attempting to empower all employees to embrace the goals of the organization and actively work with leaders to accomplish those goals. Empowerment involves the complete sharing of power with lower-level employees who are critical to the successful attainment of goals. These goals include maintaining a safe place for all employees to work and grow.
Dubrin (2007) argues that the power held by a leader can only increase when he or she shares that
power with others in the workplace. Dubrin also defines true employee empowerment as the sharing of decision – making authority and responsibility for production between manager or leader and the members of the workgroup. In order for this sharing of power to work for the employee it must be wanted by the employee and be real. Many leaders talk about empowerment of employees but are reluctant to release real power to them.
One of the most important forms of power is expertise concerning the work process. This is an especially important form of power when it comes to identification of potential workplace hazards and the development of a strategy to prevent these hazards from affecting the workers. This power is usually already present in the workers and just needs to be activated by the leader. There are several ways in which the workplace leader can empower the workers in an attempt to make their employment setting a safe and healthy place to work. According to Dubrin (2007), the easiest way to accomplish this task is by requesting greater initiative and responsibility for safety and
health issues at work from all employees. Another method of empowerment of employees is to make workplace safety and health issues part of the strategic goals of the organization. In other words, evaluate employees on their success or failure in contributing to the health and safety of the place where they work.
Finally, Bossidy and Charan (2002) state that for the leader ’ s vision to materialize, the leader must build and sustain employees ’ momentum. The leader needs to consistently search for people who want to win and who are empowered to translate short – term wins into long – term successes. This is very important when trying to improve health and safety in the workplace.