Q:

What are the advantages and disadvantages of empowerment?

A:

Quick Answer

Empowering employees typically leads to greater production and quality, improved customer service and better overall job satisfaction. Risks center on the fact that managers put a lot of trust in front-line employees to make decisions. Errors, abuse of power and security threats are all possible.

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Full Answer

The primary goal of empowerment is to improve efficiency in decision-making by giving regular employees the ability to make decisions once reserved for managers. In a retail setting, for instance, a service employee is able to help a customer more quickly than a manager could after several additional steps. Improved employee job satisfaction stems from the fact that the company puts more faith in their abilities. Supervisors are also freed up for higher-level planning and to coach employees.

In some cases, employees don't have the knowledge or training to make the most effective decisions. Poor decisions or vital mistakes may lead to huge cost drains from wasted materials, broken equipment, down time or lost customers. Entrusting employees with confidential information leaves the door open for sabotage or theft if an employee abuses the power. Some employees can become arrogant or self-absorbed with decision-making authority. For instance, an employee may take liberties in offering customers free items or perks in response to complaints.

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