Empowering Your Employees

The flat organizational model embraces the principles of flexibility, interpersonal communication and organizational learning. The conceptions of decision-making, problem solving and communication are interrelated. In addition, the success of the organization that adheres to the principles of flat organizational structure heavily depends on interpersonal communication skills. Therefore, the methods used to prepare employees at all levels for shifts in individual and group decision-making responsibility that come with flat organizational model, are very important.

Employee empowerment is one of the most important conceptions in organizational psychology, as it is used to express the ways and methods in which the company’s employees can make decisions (autonomous and independent decisions) with consulting no manager, or other authority in the organization. In the companies with strong hierarchical structure the necessity to make autonomous decisions is not very high, as there is always a manager or another authority able to decide for the employees and provide the most efficient decision. At the same time, when it comes to the companies with flat organizational structure, the managers often prefer giving the employees the ability to make decisions on their own, as employee empowerment is conductive to effective leadership and effective communication, continuous improvement orientation, positive working environment, shared vision, and positive links to community. The flat organizational model is a key element of a successful company, as it values the employees, and considers the employees to be worthy of achieving personal recognition, fulfillment and satisfaction through employee empowerment, thus increasing loyalty and fostering ownership. In addition, flat organizational model provides the company with the ability to cultivate profound relationships, and allows the organization operating in more efficient way.

In such a way, in the company with flat organizational structure the managers focus attention on various methods and ways to prepare the workers at all levels for shifts in individual and group decision-making responsibility that come with flat organizational model. To put it differently, employee empowerment in such organizations is the process where the culture of empowerment is clearly stated and developed; all the employees have shared vision, clear goals and objectives, as well as clearly defined boundaries for decision making (either individual, or group); the results of their efforts are shared, the employee’s competency (either in the form of experience, or the form of training) is also developed, and the support (in the form of cultural support, mentoring, or encouragement) is provided.

The managers should implement effective procedures and policies, as they are communication tools providing the employees with consistent approach to accomplish their daily tasks. In addition, these procedures and policies facilitate the employees’ communication and daily work, and focus their attention on the most important things, required to achieve the shared goals. On this step, employee empowerment implies adequate training, shared vision, and communication of necessary information.

Training and coaching are important as they are able to remove the barriers to employee empowerment present in the company’s organizational structure, and provide the employees with skills and knowledge required for making better decisions. The managers of the company should learn to give up control, share information, and create autonomy and feedback by coaching and training employees and making sure that the employees have required authority to accomplish their tasks properly. Training and coaching also provides the employees with necessary resources and support, and when the employees are properly coached and trained, they make decisions more effectively.

Next, the employees should be able to convey the company’s management policy and shared vision. In case the employees know the company’s vision, they hesitate less while making decisions, either individually, or in group (Pett, 1994). Then, the managers should undertake all measures to improve communication between the employees, and run operations between the company’s departments efficiently.

Employee empowerment may also be implemented through self-managed work teams: problem solving teams, and work teams. While problem-solving team is created for temporary purposes, work teams tend to be created as a permanent team. The work team, therefore, comprises of a group of individuals (5-12 persons) with the authority they require to direct and manage their operations. Team activity is expected to enhance working conditions, and to provide employees with better opportunities for self-development, self-expression, and enhanced productivity of the company in general. Self-managed teams provide the employees with the responsibility of decision-making and initiating organizational changes with less supervision. This is also important, as empowering the employees to make (and implement) routine decisions, and empowering them to make organizational changes (such as procedures, rules, policies, the physical plant, or equipment and supplies) are the important parts of employee empowerment. In such a way, effective teamwork strategy is the effective tool for employee empowerment, as it results in greater cooperation and commitment, and allows the employees to be able to respond to and to solve complex problems quickly.

Finally, as it was already mentioned, the support (in the form of cultural support, mentoring, or encouragement) is important. The encouragement boosts morale and acknowledges the job well done, thus providing employees with confidence and control in their work.