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190115 - Women in Industry - Leading an Empowered Workforce
Scotland's Rural College, SRUC
West Mains Road
Edinburgh, EDH EH9 3JG
The landscape for Scottish business is changing. Business leaders need to assimilate and understand how to navigate new challenges and exploit new opportunities in order to give themselves the best chance of achieving their growth ambitions. Almost all of the key changes anticipated for Scottish business will have employment, capability, and workforce implications. The nature of work has already been changing in response to new challenges and opportunities. The new workplace requires a more empowered workforce generating more new ideas, implemented faster than ever before.
The psychological contract is a more complex and dynamic proposition for employers with changes in the make-up of the workforce, increasing diversity, and a wider range of contractual relationships in prospect. Enlightened employers understand that increases in productivity will require a changing balance in the relationship with the workforce and issues of fair work, employee voice, and environments that promote continual learning and improvement will become even more important.
To succeed with these new workplace challenges, business leaders must be skilled in eliciting higher levels of ownership, responsibility, and accountability amongst all employees. This is essential if they are to move away from ineffective micro-management and autocratic cultures to achieve business and operational control.
Accountability is often regarded as a negative concept in organisation and management, usually associated with blame. This is an unfortunate association in our view and we promote the idea of accountability as a natural and necessary partner to empowerment. We view accountability in practice leading to empowerment, reflection, learning, and improvement. Empowering individuals through principles of fair work, clarity in performance expectations with a clear line of sight to strategic and operational priorities will require new thinking for many managers on the levels of autonomy and discretion they make available to employees. New job design will focus more on required outcomes than on prescribed tasks with very narrow boundaries of discretion.
With greater levels of discretion and autonomy comes the requirement for self-regulation amongst individuals and teams. Managers will need to be more prepared to delegate control and in so doing be much more willing to provide useful data and information to help manage performance.