Fine Light Visuals Business Blog

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Month: April 2019

Beyond Management: Empowerment and Growth

The Care and Growth model is at odds with the common view when it comes to both the meaning of “empowerment” and with what the empowerment process itself entails.

The Care and Growth model challenges the notion that empowerment is synonymous with both employee participation and democracy, that it is possible to empower overnight and to separate empowerment from accountability.

Challenges to Conventional Wisdom and the Alternative

  • Empowerment is not the same as employee participation.

Participative management has been in vogue for many years now. It arose out of management’s recognition that there was a reservoir of good ideas among those lower in the ranks which was largely untapped and hence unavailable to the business.

The way to access this collective wisdom was through the implementation of employee involvement programs. Front line employees were thus fed details pertaining to real problems and their improvement suggestions presented to management for consideration.

In this sense, the empowerment of employees meant sharing information with them, which hitherto was the sole domain of management, and then listening to employee views and opinions on the data which had been given to them.

Employee empowerment, however, is much more than employee involvement. Real empowerment requires leadership to go beyond asking people for their opinion, listening to them and only then deciding. It means letting them decide and living with their decision even if it is contrary to the decision the leadership would have made.

By definition, then, it is simply not possible to give up authority but to still hold on to control. When authority is handed over so is control.

To truly empower, therefore, literally means to give up power. The corollary to the enfranchisement of employees is the disenfranchisement of management.

  • Empowerment is not the same as democracy.

Democracy occurs when people make decisions. Furthermore in a democratic system, where there is “one man one vote”, everyone is equal.

A precondition for empowerment however is inequality not equality. For those in authority to give up authority they have to have it in the first place!

Before power can empower and thus be legitimate, there has to be inequality between the subordinate and the superordinate.

This is true of anyone in authority, be they parents, teachers, coaches or managers. Without the requisite authority to do so, they cannot enable those in their charge.

When teachers lose the authority to discipline, then students can no longer learn. This is because the teacher can no longer teach; she is too busy trying to restore a vestige of order in the classroom.

Empowerment therefore is not about replacing autocratic behaviour with democratic behaviour since there is room for both in any legitimate relationship of power.

This can be seen quite clearly when one considers the boss one works for willingly. The “want to” boss can behave in a soft and democratic manner; by listening, being approachable, supportive and sympathetic. Equally she can act in an autocratic way by setting direction, assigning responsibility, taking disciplinary action and so on.

Those on the receiving end of the “want to” boss’s autocratic behaviour are nevertheless prepared to accept this behaviour without question. This is because they intuit that the reason for the autocratic behaviour is related to their enablement. The boss is being tough with them with their highest self interest in mind.

Autocratic control in other words is entirely legitimate; but only when it is seen to be subordinate to the intention to empower.

  • Empowerment is not an instantaneous process.

There is a misconception that people are either empowered or they are not. In other words, that control either sits in one person’s (the manager) hands or in another person’s (the subordinate) hands. The handover of control is somehow instantaneous. Nothing could be further from the truth.

At one extreme the imposition of control, coupled with an intention to never let go, is clearly disenabling. It is akin to insisting on always holding the infant’s hand. The toddler will never learn to walk.

At the same time the instantaneous and total suspension of all control is also disempowering. Letting go of the child’s hand and standing in the far corner of the room, even though the child cannot yet walk on its own, is equally disenabling. In both cases the young person will be rendered unable to walk.

What is enabling in this context is for the adult to start out holding the child’s hand, then to let go but stand close by, finally stepping back to let the child walk alone. In other words what is enabling is not an instantaneous, total suspension of control, but rather an incremental suspension of control.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/7545740

Marketing For Small Business Owners and Freelancers

Over the last few months the financial news has been grim. In late 2008, while the federal government had not yet officially acknowledged that the U.S. economy is in “recession,” financial markets were screaming headlines of “panic,” “crisis,” and even “Armageddon.” When even savvy investors like Warren Buffett and T. Boone Pickens are losing billions in the stock market you know that things are getting crazy.

We don’t want to minimize the pain and suffering faced by many due to circumstances beyond their control, but we don’t want to give in to fear and panic, either. Hopefully the new administration in Washington will focus on helping the folks on Main Street rather than bailing out the super-rich on Wall Street. Meanwhile, here are some practical self-help strategies for navigating through tough economic times, maybe even getting ahead:

Are You Prepared? 
Chances are you’ll experience several periods of economic contraction during your lifetime. Financial planners recommend having enough cash-on-hand to cover at least a couple months’ living expenses in case of emergency. Beyond that, they recommend paying off credit cards, having insured savings, a retirement plan, healthcare coverage, lots of equity in your home, and maybe a stash of silver or gold coins. If you’ve got all that, congratulations! You’re probably as well prepared as anybody can be, and maybe you should be advising Wall Street or running for Congress!

It helps to take a long view. Transcendental meditators tell us that if we meditate panic will subside and the stock market will recover. Warren Buffett is buying stocks now because he thinks they’re cheap. He’s betting on the future, and he’s 78 years old!

Recessions & Depressions 
The federal government defines “recession” narrowly as a period of two consecutive quarters of declining gross national product, or GNP. “Depression” is a 10% decline. However, by the time the government gets around to crunching the numbers, most of us have already felt the pain for many months. Although the Bush administration hadn’t uttered the “R” word until December 2008, everyone knew that unemployment was up, home foreclosures were skyrocketing, credit was tight, and paychecks were being stretched past their limits. Undeniably, the middle and lower classes were already scared and struggling.

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Recessions typically last 18 to 24 months, although they can extend much longer. The worst economic contraction in U.S. history, the Great Depression of 1929, lasted over 10 years. One in four workers was unemployed, public sector jobs were almost nonexistent, there was no Social Security safety net, and bread lines stretched for blocks. The economy never fully recovered until the early 1940’s, when the country mobilized for entry into World War II. Of course, war is one hell of a way to achieve full employment. Consider all the positive alternatives: housing, education, healthcare, green technologies, the arts and sciences, space exploration…!

Will we have another Great Depression? While nobody can accurately predict the length or severity of an economic contraction, several mitigating factors are at play. Public sector jobs now account for up to a third of all employment, and Social Security provides at least a minimum safety net for the retired and disabled. Unemployment is projected to rise perhaps as high as 9%, but far less than during the Depression. Finally, the federal government is pumping vast amounts of money into the economy to mitigate the effects of the downturn. While this recession could be worse than most, it won’t be the end of the world.

Pockets Of Stability 
During tough economic times look for pockets of stability and counter-cyclical trends. Some industries are continuing to expand, in spite of-or even because of-the current business cycle. People may put off major purchases such as appliances and automobiles, so they spend more on repairs. Auto repair businesses often grow during tough times. Enviros are cheering because bicycle sales are booming! Tax lawyers may handle fewer mergers but more bankruptcy cases. And plumbers always seem to have enough work. Heck, Joe the Plumber is working on a book deal!

University enrollments often grow during recessions. Students who can’t find work stay in school, and displaced workers go back to school to retrain for new jobs. As reported in Morningstar online (10/15/08), “In bad times, when individuals are losing their jobs, many people will look to education as a means to open up new opportunities. If there are fewer jobs to go around, potential students are more likely to return to school and learn a skill that provides increased, more lucrative opportunities.” If you are an education provider, this may be the perfect opportunity to grow your business!

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