Did you know?
In the workplace, the term “empowerment” now takes on more meaning than its original dictionary definition. It denotes a new approach to management that’s more participatory – it’s about engaging with employees. Far from being a fad, empowerment can bring about lasting change in an organization.
Compelled to innovate amid a climate of constant change, organizations must adapt to a new paradigm of management. The days when managers sat in their ivory towers, alone at the helm, are over. We’ve entered a new age of cross-functional management and employee engagement. The challenge is to embed a culture of anticipation and innovation, by stimulating employee knowledge sharing and creativity.
It’s all about empowerment - an artful combination of autonomy and commitment facilitated by trust. Faster, more agile and more engaging, this new management style makes it possible to think “outside the box" by involving employees both as a team, and individually, in projects.
Vision, cohesion and autonomy
The fundamental aim of empowerment is to restore meaning to work, based on a clear vision, mission and set of goals. Additionally, it can foster a team spirit while encouraging initiative and risk-taking.
"Empowerment gives teams greater capacity to take action and make decisions," explains Valérie Gervais, Deputy Director Group Learning & Development at Saint-Gobain. “It also means that everyone – at every level – is responsible for their work, their actions and the results expected by the company.”
For employees, this "power to take action" offers an added incentive and source of satisfaction. According to Milos Pavlis, General Manager of the Construction Industry BU, “Empowering people immediately creates a different company culture. People feel much more engaged and take more joy in what they do. And this is especially true of the younger generation, who expect greater autonomy to perform tasks and make decisions.”
Strengthening entrepreneurial culture
At Saint-Gobain, this collaborative approach is now a key driver of innovation. Part of the company’s strategy to help people feel more fulfilled at work, empowerment strengthens entrepreneurial culture by enabling employees to not only be actors in group projects but also authors of their own development.
"A company can change when its team members want to transform it," says Patrice Richard, Saint-Gobain Performance Distribution Director & President of Saint-Gobain Distribution Bâtiment France.
Among the steps taken to foster this approach is Learning Week, a fun and dynamic event that aims to promote a learning culture among all group employees. In 2019, workshops were organized on some sites on the theme of "Trust, empowerment and collaboration." In the same vein, the Our People in an Empowering Network (OPEN) program, developed at Group level, also aims to develop everyone's potential in a positive and fulfilling working environment.
The overall result is a more cohesive, competitive company that makes decisions faster, while being a more valued employer brand. From blue-collar to white-collar workers, everyone agrees that empowerment is the company’s new proudly held core value.