How Many “Ps” are in “Empowerment”?

Trick question. There are three! Read on…

I had the good fortune this past week of spending an hour with one of our human resources VPs. The agenda for our discussion was performance management strategy. We covered the detail on this. The overriding theme that emerged was one of simplicity.

Performance management isn’t just about managers writing up plans with/for their employees. It is the playing out of a culture of trust. Mr. VP told me of an encounter he had early in his career with a consultant by the name of Richard Byrd. Mr. Byrd shared with him the three “Ps” in empowerment:

1. Permission

You have to ask (or be given) permission before you try to change things. No one likes a consultant who shows up and revved for “change” and no one asked them to be there. Don’t be ‘that’ consultant.

2. Process

Follow what is there. This means awareness of the culture, laws, and procedures. You need to know how it IS done before you can move people to how it should be done.

3. Protection

This is where the manager helps most. Keep them in the loop on what you’re doing. They have the relationships and hierarchical influence that you may not. Having access to this protection goes a long way towards success.

There is more to empowerment than meets the eye. There is a reason the word ‘power’ is part of empowerment. There is considerable strength, confidence, and ability in those that are properly empowered – with all three Ps…

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