Role of empowerment in uplifting an organization's excellence in less developed countries (LDC)
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ABSTRACT: Asserts that one of the main stumbling blocks to continuous improvement is the fact that management has the authority to improve the process but is blind to the problems, and the employees have knowledge of the problems but are powerless to improve them. Contends that the use of teamwork and empowerment can be used to change all this. Suggests steps to empowerment. Contends empowerment will encourage people to participate in making decisions and improvements. Empowerment unleashes the real potential that gives continuous improvement its strength: the genuine enthusiasm of all employees to work together to improve the business.The TQM Magazine 12/1993; 5(3).
- Empowerment Theory and Practice 0-7803-9139-X/05/$20.00 ©2005 IEEE.0-7803-9139-X/05/$20. 40-5600..
Role of Empowerment in Uplifting an
Organization’s Excellence in Less Developed
Shazia Nauman Maliha Elahi
Suhail Iqbal, PE, PMP, MCT
Abstract- This paper offers insight into the role of empowerment
in LDC’s in managing organizations and in helping them to
achieve success and growth in the current challenging business
environment. The paper analyzes the relationship between
Improvement (CQI) for enhancing business performance
especially in the telecom industry of Pakistan. In this research
paper, we propose two models for empowerment. First model
focuses on the empowerment process and the second model
illustrates a method for empowering employees leading towards
and Continuous Quality
Empowerment is the process of releasing the full potential
of employees to take on greater responsibility and authority in
the decision making process and providing the resources for
this process to occur . Empowerment is not a new idea; the
term has gained its place from 1970s onwards.
The literature reviewed suggests that empowerment and
leadership are essential for achievement of maximum
organizational potential. Participative management has
become a key word for empowerment. Research has shown
that there is a positive link between participation and
satisfaction, motivation and performance . Empowerment
works the best when employees need their organization as
much as the organization needs them, "and the need is much
more than a paycheck and the benefit package" .
Empowerment is a key issue stressed by leading social
psychologist Abraham Maslow who used the term “I am part
of a group” as the basis of his hierarchy of needs that
contributes towards one’s growth by driving one to become
what one is capable of becoming. This self-actualization need
is the essence of empowerment. In 1978, McKinsey showed
“SHARED VALUES” at the heart of his grid in his 7S model
and the Theory Y of Douglas McGregor, leaving least
interference or role for management to involve workers, rests
the responsibility of participation and performance totally on
The research is based on the hypothesis that Empowerment
that is staggered over stages and layers of management under
a well thought out plan contributes positively towards the
success of an organization.
111. RESEARCH METHODOLOGY
We propose two models for empowerment. The
Empowerment Process Model suggests the appropriate
leadership model for empowerment in an organization. The
Empowering Employees Model proposes a method for
empowering employees leading towards CQI.
Based upon the Empowering Employees Model, an
empowerment Audit was developed to take into account
various aspects of belief systems, i.e. cultural values and
boundary systems that define clearly an organization’s limits.
Empowerment Audit is used to serve as a tool to determine the
present level of empowerment. The Audit comprised of a
questionnaire focused on key success factors associated with
empowerment. These factors include management style,
decision making, brainstorming to improve customer service,
processes that impede organizational ability to generate more
revenue and profit contribution, and innovation for
We also developed a leadership assessment questionnaire
founded on the Empowerment Process Model to see the role
of leadership in the empowerment process. Through the
Leadership Assessment questionnaire, the appropriate
leadership model that could serve as an ideal for supporting
empowerment practices in Pakistan’s telecom sector was
developed. It assessed leadership in the context of
empowering employees in organizations. The questionnaire
investigated how leaders use motivation, communication,
teamwork, mission and vision, and change management as a
tool for empowerment, which is instrumental for personal and
professional development of employees.
SWOT analysis and Managerial Grid were used to evaluate
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the management methods and strengths and weaknesses of the
An analysis of the organization practices (in Pakistan with
relation to empowerment) and how this soft skill may be used
to uplift an organization’s excellence draws us towards the
1V. TELECOM SECTOR OF PAKISTAN
In Pakistan, the foundation of the cellular industry was laid
in 1989-90 and services started in 1995-1996 .
The government has declared Telecommunication sector as
a priority area for employment generation and poverty
alleviation. The process of issuing new licenses and
magnetizing foreign investment has resulted in large direct
and indirect employment opportunities and cross-cultural
interactions. The sector is set to generate over 370,000 new
job opportunities during the next three years. The Pakistan
Telecommunication Authority (PTA), telecom experts and
mobile companies are predicting expansion in mobile phones
to 35-40 million in the next three to four years. This
magnitude of investment and work in a challenging global
environment leaves little time for restructuring of organization
and management revamping .
V. THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK
Empowerment, the most important concept in TQM, is
many things, since employees must be empowered to make
the necessary organizational changes . The concept of
empowerment is based upon the belief that the employees
need the organization as much as the organization needs them
and that leaders understand that employees are the most
valuable assets in the firm.
Employee Empowerment: Employee Empowerment is the
process of sharing information, training and allowing
employees to manage their jobs in order to obtain optimum
results. Empowered employees show "responsibility, a sense
of ownership, satisfaction in accomplishments, power over
what and how things are done, recognition for their ideas, and
the knowledge that they are important to the organization" .
Empowering or enabling staff, whichever term is chosen, is
a fundamental aspect of CQI. It represents a basic change in
management approaches and has far-reaching implications for
transforming organizations. Vision, values, culture and a
flattened organizational structure add up to an organization
that emphasizes the development of its key resource-its
employees-in the pursuit of higher quality.
Empowered Teams: Empowered teams are much more
effective at motivating employees because the driving forces
are generated by the group instead of the management.
Empowered Organization: In an empowered organization,
the primary role of management is "to support and stimulate
their people, co-operate to overcome cross-functional barriers,
and work to eliminate fear within their own team" .
The organizational climate is influenced by the style (or
consistent pattern of behavior) a leader deploys in relating to
others within the team.
The idea of involving all employees in the process of
management was mostly unheard of until the early 1980s.
Then, through the work of management writers such as Ouchi
and Deming, amongst others, it became widely known that a
key element of the Japanese industrial success was due to the
practice of participation; encouraging everyone to contribute
to the process of innovation and decision-making [9,10].
Manfred Davidmann identified that Leadership styles vary
between two extremes; one extreme is authoritarian and the
other extreme is participative style of management .
The concept of "servant-leadership," a step ahead of
participative management, is now discussed as a highly
effective means for ensuring that the needs of employees and
customers are being met. This style of leadership, now
practiced by many successful businesses, focuses on
continually increasing the empowerment of employees. A
servant-leader serves his or her employees by providing
support needed for each person in the organization to grow
both professionally and personally.
Behavioralists have studied
empowerment and generally agree that there are key success
factors associated with empowerment that must be addressed
before authority can successfully be delegated to staff. This
includes staff having the knowledge, skills and authority to
decide and act, and taking responsibility for the consequences
of their actions.
Leadership Model: Leadership Model = Four Framework
Approach Model or Managerial Grid or any other out of many
lying between Authoritarian Management Model and
Participative Management Model.
Thus we can say that:
? Participative style management = Leadership model
? Leadership model
= (Principles + factors +attributes + environment)
This implies that:
? Participative style management = (principles + factors +
attributes + environment)
Participative management is admittedly a synthesis of
several management theories. The basic principle in this
leadership model is to involve all employees and managers
actively in a common goal. This overall goal must be clearly
defined and understood by everyone. It is best accomplished
by direct face-to-face communication among all employees
and all managers. We conclude that participatory
management itself is a leadership style that is becoming more
prevalent in successful and innovative organizations.
the implications of
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Relationship Between Empowerment, Leadership And
Continuous Quality Improvement
Empowerment and leadership are considered as cornerstones
of Continuous Quality Improvement since organizations that
will survive and thrive in the next decade will be the ones that
maintain the momentum of continual improvement and will be
able to become global market leaders. Organizations need to
empower managers and workers not only to create quality but
also to sustain competitiveness making it the basis of total
VI. RESEARCH ANALYSIS
Empowerment In Pakistan
In Pakistan managers of organizations follow a strictly
hierarchical structure, which is centralized and involves a lot
of micro-management. Traditionally this style of management
originates from colonial times and is practiced mainly in
government institutions or by managers having served with
the government. This pyramid style of management hampers
the ability of personnel to be innovative and follow a
participatory approach nor does it give credit to the employee.
This is a great restraint for employees restricting their
professional growth and resulting in them to adopt the same
management style; call it Catch 22 or a vicious cycle.
The introduction of new styles and techniques of
management owing mainly to the emergence of a strong
corporate sector in Pakistan, is leading to a change in this style
of management. Managers are tempted to adopt a web-style
structure, which is flattened and therefore less hierarchical, but
nevertheless need systems in place to promote the culture of
empowering employees by providing encouragement and
acknowledgement of their efforts and achievements as a team.
A team-based approach is therefore one that leads to
participation by members of the team leading to their
empowerment. This style of management also addresses the
issue of varying capacities through group work where
employees need to support each other in order to move ahead;
thus resulting in across the board empowerment and capacity
development. This style of management is therefore more
desirable in the local context of Pakistan to judge participation
and an effort towards empowering employees.
In Pakistan companies especially IT, to give example, grow
to a certain level and then vanish, possibly because the
company size required Participative Style Management, which
was never employed, or if employed, the change management
was not taken into account. The results are clear.
Empowerment Style: To rationalize the progression of
empowerment, we mapped our findings to Adrian Wilkinson’s
five empowerment styles .
Upward problem solving Middle management
Attitudinal shaping style Lower management
Task autonomy Not practiced at workers level
Self - management Not practiced between all levels
Upper management is mostly involved in downward
communication and upward communication is confined to
listening to complaints. Middle management has the power to
refer problems upward for management to deal with.
Attitudinal shaping style is employed for lower management.
The workers are trained/educated to feel empowered (a state
of mind) and play a more confident role in their interaction
with the customer, but workers do not take on wider
responsibility for work processes. Decisions, rules and
executive authority are still set by the few for the many.
SWOT Analysis and Managerial Grid: SWOT analysis and
Managerial Grid identified the weak areas and led us to
? Although market leaders, the organization’s main focus
is on product only and not quality.
? Concern for employees is comparatively less with
respect to concern for work.
? To provide quality services to customers is an area that
needs to be addressed by top management.
? Role of Empowerment in CQI exists but has been
deferred to the vague future.
We propose that in the process of empowerment (Figure 1),
executive leadership provides the right environment and the
foundation with a clear vision supporting the organization’s
objectives. Shared Leadership and Decision making result in
participatory management style.
To see the role of leadership management style in the
empowerment process, we developed the Leadership
Assessment questionnaire based on the Empowerment Process
Model. The findings of the Leadership Assessment
questionnaire helped determine the leadership management
style prevailing in the leading telecom company.
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Shared Vision and Focus
Shared leadership and
Fig. 1. Empowerment Process
Leadership Assessment Questionnaire Findings
Leaders conveying vision and mission: Vision and mission
in most cases is clearly conveyed down the management
ladder, with the manager’s behavior consistent over time and
projects and expectations clearly laid down.
Leaders Motivating Employees: Specific instructions are
not present. Delegation exists to a larger extent contributing
in the empowerment process. The positive aspect of the
organization is that a need exists for professional development
and the management does dedicate staff time to that effect.
Effective Communication: Although it exists, the 65%
listening and communication level between leaders and
employees indicates management is rowing a rocky boat.
Empowering Employees: Leaders do recognize employee’s
efforts publicly and inform them about important issues, but
responsibility is not assigned to full extent.
Encouraging Teamwork: Team members do enjoy an
opportunity to speak up and are treated with dignity. This
helps leaders to have cordial relationship with employees thus
resolving conflicts to a large extent.
Preparing for Change: Explaining dynamics concepts of
change to employees positively conveys change management,
but to show managers how to make changes positive for them
needs to be improved.
We also observed that due to the lack of a Leadership model
in the organization, no situational analysis or leadership
behavior patterns were documented. This was observed as
one of the obstacles in the organization to realize its objective
towards quality. We conclude that empowerment process
exists in the company, but needs to be fully implemented to
Proposed Model for Empowering Employees
We propose a model to empower employees (Figure 2),
which will eventually bring about quality improvements in the
telecom sector organizations. This model proposes that a CQI
strategy is likely to fail if empowerment of employees and
participatory management style are absent. Quality starts with
engaging the people responsible for processes- the people who
know the processes the best. We suggest that effective
policies and procedures need to be there to support them. We
also put forward that participative management is successful
in fostering responsibility, shared decision-making, face-to-
face communication, innovation, teamwork, motivation and
belongingness in empowered organizations.
To find out what is the level of empowerment in the
organization under study, we developed the Empowerment
Audit Questionnaire based on this model.
Shared Vision for
Making at all Levels
Face to Face
Fig. 2. Empowering Employees Lead to CQI
We found that leaders of the telecom sector, whom was used
as a case study, are conscious of the empowerment dimension
of quality. Questionnaire analysis supports that empowerment
is extensively used as a tool for the organization’s excellence
but in spite of this, quality remains a core problem. The
Empowerment Audit revealed that:
? Brainstorming, team participation, and information
sharing exists in the company at about 60 % and
networking with staff and change agents is 87.5 %, which
shows that there is a participative management
environment, which is a key indicator for empowerment.
? Customer focus is about 75% in the company whereas
supplier’s focus is weak (about 37%), thereby adversely
affecting their quality.
? Although the leaders encourage employees to take
responsibility for improving the way things are done, they
are not enabling the employees to take bigger decisions
without referring to someone senior.
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? We found most of the elements of empowerment in the
‘Working on it’ phase and not actually being
implemented in total as shown in Figure 3.
? Although the organization has the potential to empower
its employees, the cycle has not been completed.
? When empowerment is fully implemented, quality issues
will be resolved.
Not in place
Working on it
Fig. 3. Empowerment Audit
Quality in telecom management is a key challenge that must
be considered from a strategic point of view, and includes
such dimensions as organizational vision, values, attitude,
policy planning, leadership, and the pursuit of excellence
through continuous improvement. It is, therefore, of utmost
importance that telecom service providers understand and
implement this broader dimension of quality.
The advantages of empowerment clearly outweigh the
disadvantages for any organization. We conclude that success
of an organization is only achievable when the goals are
clearly defined and all its employees are motivated to achieve
the common objective. We also found that motivation is best
when it comes from within the group – which is only
achievable when teams are empowered not only individuals.
We see that shared values are right at the heart of
McKinsey’s 7S model, as early as 1978, although not in the
same terminology. It was recognized that shared values that
bring about a sense of ownership is important for an
organization to gain competitive advantage. This is a
neglected area for the company and needs to be addressed if
the organization intends to remain a key market player in the
telecom industry in Pakistan.
Reward systems exist in all organizations, but rewarding
“educated risk-taking” is unheard of. Risk is essential for
innovation to survive in organizations. Empowered style is
best suited when lots of small continuous innovations and
flexible responses are required; these are the components to
gaining competitive advantage.
Like most emerging mobile markets, Pakistan is also a
prepaid-driven market and the industry-wide sales mix
normally consists of 85% prepaid. Similar results are seen
from purchase intention data from potential mobile
subscribers. The organizations need to come up with
innovative market strategies and need to keep their customers
happy. For this it is suggested that the organizations need to
be customer-centric, and empower their frontline managers as
demonstrated by Ritz-hotel. The organization structure must
be flexible to bring company-wide quality and also to
maintain a competitive edge over its competitors. Social and
cultural dynamics of Pakistan require that participative
management style is adapted to its unique characteristics.
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