Organizational Consultation XXIII: Empowerment (Part Three)
Both writers identify information dissemination and decision-making as central functions of a meeting, with Reith placing additional emphasis on the type of meeting that is used to introduce, create, or clarify ideas. McDougle offers the notion of meetings as a place to introduce change that has already taken place, as well as being a forum for building team cohesiveness. When these lists are pulled together, along with other comparable lists, four primary types are repeatedly identified: (1) soliciting and/or disseminating information, (2) conflict-management, (3) problem solving and (4) decision-making. These four types, in turn, relate directly to the four primarily functions being served by groups: communication, conflict-management, problem solving and decision-making.
The multi-dimension approach to empowerment that I have described in this set of essays is appreciative in at least five different ways. First, this multi-dimensional approach to empowerment brings out the latent strengths and resources of all group members. Using this approach, one begins with the assumption that each group member has skills, knowledge and aptitudes that can be of great benefit to the group. Given this assumption, it is imperative that group members appreciate these talents and that the environment of the group is conducive to the display and nurturing of these talents.
In their own guide to empowerment, Scott and Jaffe (1991, p. 42) offer the following insightful observation about non-appreciative perspectives on group members:
Many managers [in contemporary organizations] spend much of their time disqualifying people, making up reasons why their people won’t do what the organization wants them to. . . . They expect the worst from people. . . . . No surprisingly, the manager usually finds that these negative beliefs turn out to be correct. He or she is right, but for the wrong reasons. The manager doesn’t see that he or she has created a self-fulfilling prophecy. By acting in such a way that the team did not achieve the desired results, the manager proved his or her negative assumptions to be correct.
Just as negative assumptions can be self-fulfilling, so can positive assumptions regarding strengths and competencies. Effective and empowering group leaders discover and foster talents in all members of the group—including themselves!