September 22nd, 2010
I have just read yet another piece about “empowerment” and I am throwing the bullshit flag. Enough. You know who can empower me? I can. You know what you can do? You can get the hell out of my way. To be very honest, I find the idea of empowerment as a management practice offensive and misinformed.
Most of what is done in the name of management and most of what is done in the name of human resources today is about conformity and compliance. Policy. Reducing risk. Meetings. Meetings. Meetings. Ridiculous budgeting and decision making processes. Maintaining order. Keeping track of people and stuff. Protecting turf. Playing the game. Get in your box and stay there. Being polite over being honest. There are certainly exceptions to this (and its not just Zappos for crying out loud), but I do see this as the norm.
I do not believe much in the idea of empowering others, but before we can even have any kind of serious conversation about employee empowerment we need to get the antiquated and conformist practices of management and human resources out of the way. The problem does not lie in the employees, but in organizational cultures, practices and policies that are “disempowering.” I think I just invented a word.
I think that the belief that “leaders” need to (or can) “empower” employees is further evidence of two increasingly significant realities.
1-This thing we have come to refer to as leadership/management is actually a fundamental component of the problems facing the organization today.
2-Nearly everything about business has changed except “the business.”
What do you think about the idea of empowerment?
Be good to each other.