EMPOWERING HUMAN CAPITAL

"One machine can do the work of fifty ordinary men. No machine can do the work of one extraordinary man."-Elber Hubbard

SAIMA TARIQ DURRANI, KARACHI
Oct 08 - 21, 2007

Human Resource is the most important asset of an organization. This is the type of asset which is not mentioned in the Balance Sheet but nobody can deny its importance. Data, Technologies, Products and Structures can be copied by competitors. No one, however, can equivalent highly charged, motivated employees. In today's more competitive environment top management alone can no longer assure organization's progress. Well educated, trained, and highly motivated employees are vital to the development and execution of strategies.

WHY EMPLOYEE EMPOWERMENT?

Unlike their theoretical importance, people are firm's most underutilized resource. In the new knowledge economy, independent entrepreneurship and initiative is needed throughout the ranks of your organization. Involvement in an organization is no longer a one-way street. In today's corporate environment a manager must work towards engaging organization forcefully enough to achieve its objectives. Managers assume more leadership and coaching tasks and work hard to provide employees with resources and working conditions they need to accomplish the goals they've agreed to. In brief, managers work for their staff, and not the reverse.

Empowerment is the oil that lubricates the exercise of learning. Talented and empowered human capital is becoming the prime ingredient of organizational success. A critical feature of successful teams, they are invested with a significant degree of empowerment, or decision-making authority.

Equally important, employee empowerment changes the managers' mind-set and leaves them with more time to engage in broad-based thinking, visioning, and nurturing. This intelligent and productive division of duties between visionary leaders, focusing on emerging opportunities, and empowered employees, running the business unit day to day (with oversight on the leader's part) provides for a well-managed enterprise with strong growth potential.

HOW TO EMPOWER EMPLOYEE?

We hear the phrase, "Empowering Employees" yet do we really know how to do that. Is it pointing them to resources and letting them go? In some cases, it is. Each case is unique. The truth is that there is a wide spectrum, and we need to know our employees, ourselves, and the project well enough to know where on the spectrum is appropriate.

Let's test your management skills in a quick quiz? You are the manager of a new project leader. He has been a data analyst for 4 years. He will be overseeing the work of 2 people on his team, and 5 contributors from other departments.

In which scenario do you think the new project manager will be more successful?

A.) You give him clear instructions, with a follow-up email documenting the work to complete and the deadline. You allow him the freedom to handle it and check back with him in two weeks when it is due.

B.) You give him instructions, and check with him every morning and afternoon. You talk to his staff, and the other contributors to make sure they received the appropriate instructions. You stay late several nights to help oversee the project, even when your new manager cannot.

DID YOU SELECT A? B?

Both are incorrect. In scenario A, you are not involved at all. You are not communicating, measuring or anything to be sure this very green project leader is on track. If he fails, you are to blame for providing no guidance.

In scenario B, you are not demonstrating confidence in your new project leader. You are undermining his authority by checking up on his staff and others involved. He may have become frustrated by your lack of trust. Maybe that is why he is not staying late to manage the overtime staff. You are also not holding him accountable. You are stepping in to do the work, instead of providing guidance. He is new and may not feel confident. This treatment probably compounded those feelings.

For your new employee to be successful, you must empower him. There's that word again. We've broken it into six key parts of empowering your employee.

* At the time of employee selection, employer should have enough confidence that the candidate is suitable and perfect according to the job description and has the right skills, knowledge and qualification to do the job. Make sure it is expressed to the employee.

* Clear and well defined job description is to be provided to the employee at the time of joining so that he knows exactly what to do and what the department goals are. Set unambiguous expectations.

* Interdepartmental and intra-department communication is vital in order to create harmonized work environment. Communicate work goals, department process, problems or changes and progress.

* Employer should be committed to the employee's success because employes' success is ultimately organization's success. Do not hide facts. Guide the employee without doing the job for him. Do not check up on the employee by interviewing their staff or taking their complaints as valid. If you believe in team building and interested in getting desired results then give them autonomy to work in their own style and restrict yourself to the monitoring without putting yourself over their heads.

* Develop performance measuring metrics in advance, so it is clear what the department and company standards are. It is easy to objectively determine if goals are met. Make your employee sure that the one who is responsible is ultimately accountable for his work.

The degree of communication, and hands on support will vary depending on the employee's position, skills, experience level, and tenure. However, the principles of empowerment are the same at all levels. As the employee develops and achieves successes, you can give the employee a little more freedom to soar. Because you are communicating and measuring against standards, you'll know if you need to get more involved.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Saima Tariq durrani, has worked on responsible positions with Pak-Suzuki Motor Company and Saltec Powerlink. She has a profound background in HR and holds a MPA degree in HRM from University of Karachi. Saima.tariq07@yahoo.com.