Essay Preview: Empowerment
Report this essay
Introduction: The objective of this paper is to show how employee empowerment affects organizations. Empowerment refers to the act of delegating authority along with the responsibility for accomplishing given tasks. It is unreasonable to expect an employee to complete a task successfully unless that employee was given the authority to carry it out. Empowerment gives employees the feeling of belonging, allowing them to feel pride in their work and take ownership of tasks that may otherwise be mundane.

Problem Statement: Frederick Winslow Taylor, the father of scientific management, was responsible for creating a revolution against what he called “initiative and incentive management” at the turn of the 20th century. While Taylor did not say much about empowering employees, he did raise important questions about the distribution of responsibilities between workers and their managers. Taylor was troubled that managers of his time were not involved in planning manufacturing activities. (Pfeiffer IL, Dunlap GB (2002))

Taylor believed productivity could be dramatically improved if manufacturing activities were scientifically planned, which could only be done by managers because workers were overworked and uneducated. As a result, Taylor called for an even split of work between management and workers so that managers could plan the tasks and workers could carry them out. While Taylor was the first to think about a fair distribution of work between managers and their employees, he did not define that distribution with adequate clarity for that definition to be operational. An operational definition must meet the following three requirements:

A criterion to be applied
A test to determine whether the criterion is satisfied
A way to interpret the results of the test
Literature Review: The problems of achieving goals in business arise out of variation. The decrease in sales compared to the previous year, excessive costs when compared to the budget, and deviation of a product from the specified target are a few examples. The variation in a given outcome can come from hundreds if not thousands of causes. However, as “the grandfather of total quality management” Walter Shewhart stated, it will take several lifetimes to study all the causes that affect outcome. But if there is a way to separate the significant causes from the insignificant, it may be a reasonably good start. (Pfeiffer IL, Dunlap GB (2002))

With that idea in mind, Shewhart conceptualized that there are two types of causes of variation in any process. This idea can be traced back to 16th-and 18th-century thinkers such as John Locke and Immanuel Kant, but it was Shewhart who not only found a practical use for the concept but gave the world a mathematical method of distinguishing between the two types of causes. That method is known as statistical process control.

The first kind of variation is known as random or common cause variation. Common causes constitute an overwhelming majority of the total causes. Common causes constitute the system that is responsible for a given outcome and hence are said to be inherent in the system. While common causes inflict significant variation on the outcome when they are put together, their effect is small individually. (Pfeiffer IL, Dunlap GB (2002)) Because the effect of these causes is random, some causes may dominate one outcome when the others dominate the other outcomes. Over a period of time, however, the common causes balance one another. The impact of this understanding is profound since common causes affect every outcome uniformly. In other words, an individual employee who works in the system is completely governed by these common causes. The performance of this individual varies from week to week, giving the appearance that performance was better some weeks compared to others. But in reality, the outcome of any given week is merely the draw of a lottery. (Byham WC. (2003))When the variation is inherent in the system, it is unfair to blame the individual employees for the failures or to give credit for the successes. Only management can take the credit or the blame for the common causes of the system. However, even management cannot manage all the variables. There are factors that affect the organization from the outside, such as global economy and labor pool, which cannot be governed by even the highest ranking manager.

The second kind of variation is known as assignable cause or special cause variation. The special causes tend to be very few in number and are said not to be part of the system of the common causes. The impact of a special cause is significantly higher on the outcome compared to individual common causes. This concept serves a practical use. Since these causes are few in number, it is efficient to deal with the special causes as opposed to common causes in order to reduce the variability of the process drastically. Removing special causes is generally easier than removing common causes because special causes are not part of the system and are easier to identify. People who are close to the process are best qualified to do this job since it is easier for them to know what is normal and what is not. In other words, empowerment of employees makes sense when dealing with special causes. (Byham WC. (2003))

Apart from being efficient, there is another reason to deal with special causes before addressing common causes. As stated earlier, common causes in the system balance one another over a period of time. This balance makes a process stable or predictable since we know, within the limits of variation, what the process will do in the near future. This predictability is lost when special causes come and go, obscuring our view of what is inside the system. Since the special causes are not part of the system, it is necessary to remove them to understand the system and its common causes. Empowering employees does not guarantee that all the special causes can be found. For practical reasons, it takes a lot of detective work and a little bit of luck to be successful. However, if employees are not adequately trained and are not empowered to spend time on finding the special causes, the causes keep recurring, resulting in increasing variation and frustrating any breakthrough attempts to improve the process. (Byham WC. (2003))

Special causes are unusual in that they are not part of what is expected of the system, but that does not make all special causes bad or undesirable. There may be an employee that performs exceptionally well in the system due to dexterity or past training. Unquestionably, that employees performance is a special cause; although that performance is

Get Your Essay

Cite this page

Employee Empowerment Affects Organizations And Frederick Winslow Taylor. (April 2, 2021). Retrieved from https://www.freeessays.education/employee-empowerment-affects-organizations-and-frederick-winslow-taylor-essay/