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Employee Empowerment

Discuss About The Changing Scenarios Of Consumer Preferences?

In the ever-changing scenarios of consumer preferences, newly developing technologies and the desire of innovation by the current generation of entrepreneurs, the basic approach of any business organization is to be as much unique and satisfactory in its products and services as it can get. For any organization, the basic point of connect with its consumers has to be its employees, and while dealing with any client/consumer, an employee represents the organization. As representatives, they have the capability to make or mar a company’s image with their conduct and practices. In order to achieve consumer satisfaction and loyalty, it is crucial for any organization that their employees are comfortable in their work environment, and that any information they might have regarding to the business model of the company can be taken into account. In this regard, companies, which look to harness the firsthand experience and the feedback from their employees, have to provide them with a certain level of freedom to express their ideas for improvement and apprehensions of any current policies. While an employee is allowed to question the existing policies of a company, he may feel more involved in the company, and inculcate a sense of responsibility. (Lapointe, 2014) This sense of responsibility towards the organization can prove productive and reduce employee dissatisfaction at same time.  Employee empowerment is an effective way by which an employee can be motivated to achieve the best results ,by providing them with a sense of leadership , a degree of decision making , and incorporating their point of views in the process of business management . This essay reflects upon the growing need for employee empowerment as it enables an organization to take swift decisions, while discussing the ways in which it helps to stay ahead among competitors.

Empowerment can be described as a way to enhance a person or a community’s scope of control and decision making in order to make them more responsible and take control. When seen from the employee’s point of view, it is as a way for them to feel empowered at a certain level, by providing them suitable power to take decisions on their own. For an employee to be empowered on certain matters, it is essential that the senior person who commands him or her actually relinquish that power. (Frisch, 2011)For example, if a sales person is given the freedom to offer a minor increase in discounts given to certain customers whom he considers important, he may feel that he has a degree of independence while dealing with them. If the marketing manager who oversees the sales person decides to override his recommendation, then the empowerment does not hold any value, for the employee to feel truly empowered the marketing manager must actually agree with the sales person and wait to see the results. While this empowerment may or may not bring in results in every case, it ensures that an employee does not feel he was hampered by decisions imposed on him by his seniors. This reduces the chances of conflict and grievance towards the leadership. The process of empowerment can be different for different types of organizations; in general, it follows a pattern of stages where the need of empowering, the financial aspect of the empowerment, involvement of the employees and similar factors are considered. According to Bandura (1986), the whole process of employee empowerment goes through five different stages. (Conger & Kanungo, 1988) The first stage involves analyzing the issues, which the employees are facing that make them feel powerless in their organization.

Advantages and Disadvantages


This stage also reflects upon the nature of job, the commonly occurring problems with employees that may help to figure a pattern which leads to the second stage of the empowerment process, where the employees are provided with goals to achieve within a time frame and a feedback is sought from time to time in order to make changes in the organization’s strategy. To achieve the desired goals, employees can be given a degree of independence in taking decisions, which helps them to gain confidence and at the same time increase their productivity. The third stage involves providing the employees with important information that can help them gain more insight into the business model of the company. This stage also requires a manger to discuss with an employee about the proper use of his decision making in a way that benefits the company, by using technical knowhow and experience. After this stage, when it is evident that an employee is succeeding in implementing his decision-making abilities, he can be rewarded for achieving goals by enriching his job. This can be done by expanding his scope of work. This makes an employee feel more important at work and increases the effort he puts in.The final stage of implementation involves a review of the objectives and removing any hurdles in the empowerment process by addressing any behavioral aspects of the employee. Thus, empowerment is a steady process in which improves an employee’s perception about his work. There are three different approaches for employee empowerment programs. These are suggestion involvement, Job involvement and high involvement (Chand, 2016). Suggestion involvement is a small improvement over the control model, where employees are invited to present their ideas through group meetings or formal surveys. While it is a good way to get feedback, it does not result in any change in the work profile of an employee. Thus, it can be considered as the weakest form of empowerment, since it only provides the employees with an opportunity to suggest something. A more effective way could be job involvement, as it moves away from the command model. The jobs assigned to employees are based on their skills and the tasks are in such a way that their skills are put to test. In this form of empowerment, the employees feel more important about their jobs since it related to their field so they have a better understanding about how to do their job and they have a clear understanding about their scope of work. While Job involvement does bring in lot of empowerment and sense of confidence about the job, it does not address the process of higher decision-making and job allocation, as a senior manager decides whom to allocate jobs and given rewards. This can undermine the whole basis of empowerment, if the job allocations are not done properly. A deeper approach is high involvement, where the lower level employees are given a sense of involvement both in terms of their respective jobs, and in the performance of their groups. They also share a common responsibility towards the organization’s functioning and are attached to the company’s outcomes as a whole unit. This approach requires information to be shared uniformly across the organization, regardless of an employee’s position. A commonly used method of high involvement is for marketing departments where companies provide profit sharing on sales for its marketing person. This kind of arrangement makes him feel more independent and motivates the employees to explore new avenues to sell a product or service.

Different Approaches to Employee Empowerment

Employee empowerment is the current normal for any organization, especially in cases where there is more interface with consumers, like in case of FMCGs .Nowadays employees need to step beyond the boundaries of the organization in order to operate as per their natural instinct. (Chamorro-Premuzic & Garrad, 2017)While the practice of empowering them through various means is fast gaining currency, the same process can also pose a threat to the organization, if it is not moderated in a time bound manner. For example, if a marketing department gives too much independence to an employee to market its products, he may resort to bad practices such as misinformation about the product. He may be tempted to exaggerate his product’s benefits in order to confirm a sale, thereby putting the brand image at risk. Moreover, he may also be demoralized in case others are able to garner better sale figure due to difference in operating areas or other reasons. (Williams, 2012) These are some of the unforeseen disadvantages a company may face if the empowerment of their employees is not moderated on a regular basis. In addition, the empowered employees sometimes get lethargic about their work. Like in the case of Hindustan Motors , a leading motor vehicle company in India till the 1980’s , it was forced to discontinue production in 2015 , due to lack of innovation in its product. When companies like Ford, Suzuki, and Maruti were developing more fuel-efficient and better-looking cars, HM simply made minor updates to its bestselling model, the Ambassador, and hoped for sales to pick up. (Bothra, 2014) That kind of failure is uncalled for in today has cut throat competition and the major factor was inaction of its management over the years. Thus, while employee empowerment is desirable in today’s scenario, there needs to be proper balance between free reign and total control. Notwithstanding the great opportunities, that employee empowerment brings in an organization; there are some issues that may crop up when an employee is given undue advantage in his position. (Reddy, 2016) An employee is at a lower position during the starting of his career because there is an undeniable fact of him being less experienced than others are. A fresher generally has less oversight over matters of importance and may fail to recognize the long-term effects of a decision. (Staw & Ross, 1987) These employees, if they are provided a say in the matters of important strategy making, can at best be a hindrance in the process. Since they have a short term vision and less understanding of the overall business cycle , they may not be helpful in  these matters .Besides , if they are heard and ignored in a meeting , they may lose patience and feel let down , even the best laid plans seem inadequate at the time. Another challenge, which the concept of empowerment poses, is that it slows down the whole process of decision making, which is not always good. (Rowlands, 1995) Sometimes, a leader of an organization needs to make quick decisions in order to grab an opportunity or to remain ahead of his competitors. If the employees are consulted during these crucial meetings, they may try to suggest many other alternatives in order to show their insight, thereby distracting the leadership

Conclusion

Employee empowerment does bring in frictions at various levels; nevertheless, when it helps the employees of an organization to feel free to work and produce results for the company, it is worth the trouble. Even when there are internal conflicts and misunderstandings which can arise due to the employee’s difference of opinion , the process of empowerment results in fewer  opportunities being lost and greater employee satisfaction at the same time. Even if there are differences in opinion, the management can be prompt in addressing such issues and ponder over the suggestions that come up during a discussion.

References

Baird, K., & Wang, H. (2010). Employee empowerment:extent of adoption and influential factors. Sydney: Emerald Group Publishing Limited.

Bothra, A. (2014). Hindustan Motors Ambassador - The End of an Era. Retrieved August 30, 2017, from https://www.mbaskool.com/business-articles/marketing/9893-hindustan-motors-ambassador-the-end-of-an-era.html

Chamorro-Premuzic, T., & Garrad, L. (2017). Motivating People. Retrieved August 30, 2017, from https://hbr.org/2017/02/if-you-want-to-motivate-employees-stop-trusting-your-instincts

Chand, S. (2016). 3 Important Types of Empowerment. Retrieved August 30, 2017, from https://www.yourarticlelibrary.com/human-resources/3-important-types-of-empowerment-as-defined-by-bowen-and-lawler/2434/

(1988). In J. A. Conger, & R. N. Kanungo, The empowerment process: Integrating theory and practice.Academy of Management Review (Vol. 13, pp. 471-482). Retrieved August 30, 2017, from https://www.jstor.org/stable/258093 .

Frisch, B. (2011). Decision Making. Retrieved August 30, 2017, from https://hbr.org/2011/12/who-really-makes-the-big-decisions-in-your-company

Lapointe, M. (2014, july 21). 10 WAYS TO CREATE A SENSE OF OWNERSHIP. Retrieved August 30, 2017, from Leadershipfreak.blog: https://leadershipfreak.blog/2014/07/21/10-ways-to-create-a-sense-of-ownership/

Reddy, C. (2016). Advantages & Disadvantages of Employee Empowerment. Retrieved August 30, 2017, from https://content.wisestep.com/employee-empowerment-meaning-advantages-disadvantages/

Rowlands, J. (1995). Empowerment Examined. In Development in practice (pp. 86-92). Taylor And francis. Retrieved August 30, 2017, from https://pages.uoregon.edu/aweiss/Intl640/Rowlands%20Empowerment%20Examined.pdf

Staw, B. M., & Ross, J. (1987). Knowing When to Pull the Plug. Retrieved August 30, 2017, from https://hbr.org/1987/03/knowing-when-to-pull-the-plug

Williams, R. S. (2012). How Companies Demoralize Their Employees Without Knowing It. Retrieved August 30, 2017, from https://www.forbes.com/sites/reneesylvestrewilliams/2012/09/14/how-companies-demoralize-their-employees-without-knowing-it/#29cdbe1b1c6a

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