Empowerment is different from delegation. Delegation is entrusting a task to a team while still retaining all the decision making control. Empowerment, however, requires that a certain amount of responsibility and decision making capability is vested in the team. Assigning responsibility implies confidence in the team and confidence in its ability to take certain decisions on its own. It gives the team the independence to formulate an action plan and then implement that plan.
Empowered teams can work in several situations; here are some examples of a few:
Empowered product marketing teams are able to come up with ideas that help create better products and services in line with customer expectations.
Empowered teams in the services sector can help to bring about greater customer satisfaction and retention levels.
Empowered sales teams are better at achieving their targets and forming long-term partnerships with clients.
Let’s look at an example of a customer services team at a hotel:
The customer services team is not empowered to handle complaints. When faced with an irate customer, they have to be polite but buy time. They then have to refer back to their supervisor and work out a solution that can appease the customer. When they finally get back to the customer, the customer has his bags packed and is ready to check out to move to a competitor’s hotel!
Let’s now consider an empowered customer services team:
The customer services team is empowered to handle complaints in a particular manner. When faced with an irate customer, the team is empowered to use small promotional methods like discounts, offers or schemes to appease the disgruntled customer. The customer is happy with the offer and the matter is resolved efficiently. The benefits to the company can be enormous since customer retention is likely to go up.
Lack of empowerment can be a functional glass ceiling and it can prove to be a stumbling block especially for teams that front organizations in customer services or client relations.
Lack of empowerment can also slow down the work flow because the decision making is vested higher up the hierarchy. A certain amount of authority and decision making leeway helps improve work efficiency and also ensures that a team takes pride in its existence.
If the team is empowered to make some of the decisions, this empowerment becomes an enabling force and positively impacts the efficiency and revenues of the organization. Many companies have reaped tangible benefits by using empowerment as an “enabling force”.
Reprinted from Team Building, www.teambuildingportal.com
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