A Conference For, By And At The
Consultant Question and Answer
Jim Harrington Responds:
Delegation is very specific - you delegate a specific task or activity that an individual will be held accountable for. Empowerment on the other hand is less specific. You empower employees to adjust their activities so that they provide maximum value to the organization, not to the customer. The two sometimes are very different. For employees to function in an empowered environment, they need to have an excellent understanding of how their activities impact the short and long-term performance of the organization.
In a delegated, empowered environment, employees have to have a much better understanding of the business and how their assignments fit into the total structure than when management defines all the rules. Individuals need to understand how their actions relate to the business drivers and the business objectives if they are going to make business decisions. Every employee's performance plan should be linked into the organization's business plan and the organization's budget. Employees need to stop thinking about how their actions at work impact them and put primary consideration on how their actions impact the organization's performance. This is best accomplished using two methodologies: Annual Strategic Business Planning methodology and Area Activity Analysis methodology.
A good business plan involves everyone from the boardroom to the boiler room. Its end result is a business strategy for the coming years that is directly related to the budgets that are approved for those years. A good business plan serves three purposes: it sets direction and expectations and defines action.
Setting direction is top management's primary job. In the strategic planning cycle, top management sets direction by defining the organization's vision, mission, values, strategic focus and critical success factors.
Setting expectations is a joint
responsibility between upper management and middle
management. It consists of two elements:
The action plans consist of four
additional parts that middle and first-line managers and
the employees develop.
The purpose of Area Activity Analysis is to personalize the work that goes on within an organization to the individual, setting standards for quality and productivity. This allows the employees to exercise controls over their personal behavioral patterns to maximize their value to the organization. When the Area Activity Analysis exercise is completed, each employee within the organization will have an excellent understanding of how they fit into the organizational structure and how they impact the organization's performance.
Involving the person in the strategic planning process and then providing insight into how the organization depends upon them, prepares your people to operate effectively within a delegated and empowered environment. At the same time it provides management with the necessary controls to ensure that business performance is optimized.
As General George Patton stated, "If you tell people where to go, but not how to get there, you'll be amazed at the result."