Student Question

How can a work team be empowered?

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There are many ways to empower a team. They range from the most basic to more challenging methods. The most basic method is to give teams more power. I know that sounds obvious, but in practice, it is fairly rare. Teams are often given tasks: Do this. Write up that. Produce four options for X, and so on. Giving teams more power to do more would empower them. Along with that, you would give the teams more responsibility. Rather than treating teams as flunkies or functionaries, give teams responsibility for solving major problems. Don't dictate methods to them, but let them do the work their own way.

The next steps take more investment on the part of managers. Give these teams more time to complete their team tasks. If the project is quite important, this might mean relieving team members of all other responsibilities. Next, managers need to give the team what it needs to complete its responsibilities. This might mean providing material support: money to purchase machinery, travel funds, etc. It might mean letting them "steal" other employees who have skills the team especially needs.

Next, provide the organizational context and support they need. Coach them to succeed. Get them any special training they need. Help them set goals. Communicate with them. Champion their activities. Reward them.

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