Workplace Reengineering, Reorganization, and Redesign From Nursing Management: Principles and Practice

Patricia Stanfill Edens, RN, MS, MBA, FACHE

September 13, 2005

In This Article

Employee Readiness and Support

Empowerment of employees is the single most critical component of effective change in the organization. The methods managers use -- total quality management, reengineering, right sizing, restructuring, and turnarounds -- routinely fall short because they fail to alter behavior (Kotter, 1996). Although managers often say they empower their employees, in reality, they are afraid to give power to people, which is the true definition of empowerment. Kotter believed that organizational transformation will not occur unless many employees participate in the process. Removing the fear factor by giving permission to speak freely is the true essence of empowerment.

Numeroff (1985) described a more realistic view of how power is given: "If you give a mouse a cookie, then he'll ask for a glass of milk. He'll want to look in a mirror to make sure he doesn't have a milk mustache" (pp. 1-3). The book espouses that the more you give the mouse, the more he asks for, ultimately leading to his young host's exhaustion. Managers tend to hold back from involving employees in the process of management out of the fear that staff will ask for even more control. Employees are ready to assist in the redesign of work; it is the management team that needs to be encouraged to change from a traditional management structure to one of shared governance.