The lightning of empowerment
By William C.BYHAM, Ph.D
With Jeff COX
This book is a fable that deals with leadership and empowerment. It can be read in two different ways as an amusing story or as a guide to discover the ideas linked with leadership, management and motivation.
The author gives us the key principles ofempowerment and the steps to start using it in our job.
The story takes place in an imaginary world. Our two characters Ralph Rosco and Joe Mode work in the Dept N of the Normal Company which produces normalators. At the beginning, everything is normal in the company “Managers did the thinking, Supervisors did the talking and employees did the doing”. Ralph is a normal type ofemployee and Joe the normal type of supervisor.
However, Ralph thinks that something is missing in the organization. One day, he has a new idea and he creates a machine called the Ralpholator. This invention “transports” people in the twelfth dimension. In this dimension, you can see things invisible like how people feel. In this world, Ralph and Joe discover the differences between thedepartment N and the department Z. In the department Z, people are “lightning” while in their own department they are “dark”. The light in the department Z is the good feeling and their self-confidence. For example, if the supervisor gives a good word to an employee who have done a good job he will certainly “light” for a moment but it would not be constant. On the opposite, if the supervisor tellshis employee that he would never be able to finish a task on time, this employee would certainly become darker.
The author creates a word ”ZAPP!” to describe the energy that enables continuous improvement. Step by step, Ralph and Joe discover that the “enzapping” of employees is essential for the productivity, the competitiveness and the creativity of the firm.
Employees who arezapped are more efficient for the company; they make the business better in quality, output, cost, sales and customer satisfaction.
The first three steps to zapp others is firstly to maintain self-esteem, secondly to listen and respond with empathy, thirdly to ask for help in solving problems in order to offer help without taking responsibility.
In order to be zapped, workers needdirection (key result areas, goals, and measurement), knowledge (skills, training...), resources (tools, materials...) and support (feedback, coaching, encouragement...). The last key is that it is better to work in team than individuals to improve quality and performance.
The other lesson that Joe learned is that if you don’t take care you can SAPP your employees, that is to say sapped theirtrust in their own capacities and in their role in the firm. At the beginning, Joe was always sapping his employees taking the responsibility of every task, taking authority, identity, energy and power from his employees and never delegating the work.
Motivation in work
At the beginning of the book, Joe Mode believed in the theory X describes by MAC GREGOR in 1950s. Mac Gregor, aftera study realised with an hundred companies on management and how to become a good manager, found two opposite believes in firms. Mac Gregor recommended the theory Y versus the theory X to motivate people in order to be a good manager.
The first one is called the theory X or mechanist. Its characteriscts are:
• Human being is lazy, he wants to escape from physical and mentalefforts
• Human being escape responsibilities
• Human being should be under an autocratic and control system, and under disciplinary sanctions to oblige him to work
• Managers should compensate employees’ lack of creativity
• Organizations know how to use the maximum of employees’ capacities.
This theory is based on the autoritarian principle....
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