EMPOWERMENT Is Everything! What Does It Take?

Topic: Job Satisfaction, Organizational Commitment, Performance
Publication: Journal of Applied Psychology (SEP/OCT, 2011)
Article: Antecedents and Consequences of Psychological and Team Empowerment in
Organizations: A Meta-Analytic Review
Authors: Scott E. Seibert, Gang Wang, and Stephen H. Courtright
Reviewed By: Mary Alice Crowe-Taylor, Ph.D.

Are you a manager or an HR professional who thinks that your workplace is a pretty good place to work for your employees? Think that your employees are empowered? Well, see how well your organization measures up against 30 years of research into what empowerment looks like!

This study combined over 150 samples of adult workers in organizational settings. It looked at the key factors needed for employees to be intrinsically motivated to perform their jobs well; that is, to be empowered. Needless to say, it indicates some key organizational conditions needed as well as other great outcomes (correlates) of empowerment in addition to better performance.

First, organizations that utilize high-performance managerial practices (like open information sharing; decentralization; participative decision-making; extensive training; contingent compensation) are on the right track to empower their employees. Those companies that provide material, social and psychological support for employees also are. When positive, trustworthy leaders who coach well and provide effective feedback are in charge, and the work is well-designed, the company also empowers!

What about the employees themselves? Empowered employees had more positive self-evaluations; they felt better about themselves. They felt that they were worthy, competent and capable at work. It didn’t matter whether they were male or female; had a certain level of education, or length of tenure, or a certain job level.

What about the great outcomes? Well, when employees felt empowered, not only did they perform better, they were more innovative. They also reported greater job satisfaction, greater organizational commitment and performed more organizational citizenship behaviors. They also felt less job strain and were less likely to leave their organizations.

This research also showed that empowerment works for teams in the same ways! That is, teams managed with high-performance systems, in a supportive manner with positive leadership and well-designed work, reported greater team performance.

To see an integrated model, based on 30 years of theory and research, that lists the antecedent conditions and the solid outcomes of empowerment, pull up this article and make it your wallpaper! Be positive and empower your employees if you’re not already! You won’t regret it, and your organization will be both more effective and more innovative. In today’s business world, empowerment is a must!
Seibert, S.E., Wang, G., and Courtright, S.H. (2011). Antecedents and Consequences of Psychological and Team Empowerment in Organizations: A Meta-Analytic Review. Journal of Applied Psychology, 96(5), 981-1003.

human resource management, organizational industrial psychology, organizational management


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