Whatever the definition is, participative management requires responsibility and thrust to employees. It is important that management recognizes the potential of employees to identify and to derive corrective actions to quality problems (Stevens, 1993: 20). However, according to Stevens (1993: 20), if management refuses to act upon team recommendations, "the team members' faith in the quality program will be destroyed."
Furthermore, critics argue that employees may be given the impression that TQM and employee empowerment is just another management buzzword, and that the decision making process is still dominated at the top of the organizational hierarchy (Scully, 1993: 453). In many organizations, this traditional labor division is the principal cause why managers finds it difficult to delegate responsibility. Scully (1993: 455) also argues that to some people empowerment means more delegation in form of indirect control. Moreover, Stevens (1993: 18) stresses that some subordinates may view empowerment as abandonment and that it leads to organizational anarchy.
However, many supervisors think that empowerment may lead to them loosing authority and ultimately their jobs. Therefore, it is logical that most of the resistance to empowerment comes from the middle management (Keighley, 1993: 7). Keighley argues that this resistance to change can be reduced by setting, measuring and evaluating performance together with the team (1993: 8). Likewise, Hand argues that supervisors and managers should be trained in order to cope with organizational change (1994: 24).
In addition, managers argue that employees are unable to get the whole picture of the organization, and that they are not all qualified to make decisions. Dobbs (1993: 55) argues that work-teams are unable to see the connection between process improvements and the overall strategy and profitability of the firm.
For instance, Saturn, a highly successful American car manufacturer, empowered its employees by turning assembly lines into dedicated process oriented work stations solely managed by the work team. Even the design process involves a high degree of employee participation. In the Saturn case, empowerment became directly linked to responsibility, and employees make suggestions how to improve processes (Bluestone,1992:38). Stevens suggests that "the ultimate success of a quality program is based on its ownership by employees and their empowerment to make changes" (1993: 20). It is crucially important that management value employee suggestions and manage accordingly. Naturally, workers directly involved in a process knows best how to improve it (McMillan, Mahoney. 1994: 177). In an Empowered organization, employees feel responsible beyond their own job, since they feel the responsibility to make the whole organization work better.
Lawler (1994: 71) does to a certain extent oppose the ideas mentioned in this section. He argues that employee empowerment does not directly constitute to the success of a TQM program since quality is always on the center stage in such a strategy. Opposite to this, employee empowerment is usually the result of an organization's strategy and technology, focusing not only on how to improve cost, speed, and efficiency through quality improvements (Lawler, 1994: 71).
Johnson (1993: 47) is aware that there is a belief that employees only work to get monetarily compensated. However he argues that it is only true when employees are not able to play an integral part of the organization. Likewise, Mahoney, McMillan (1994) propose that the empowerment process is only successful when there is room for feedback and autonomy in the organizational culture. Only in such a scenario, it is possible to fully utilize the capabilities of your employees. The golden rule is that "leaders have to treat their employees the way they want the bosses to treat them" (Johnson, 1993: 47).
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