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Techniques of Empowerment

Four techniques for making people feel empowered are imparting knowledge, providing support, helping employees see their mission, and giving authority.

Imparting Knowledge

  • A study published in April 2017 discussed whether empowering elderly patients with COPD could result the patients being better able to live with and manage the disease. While the results of the study are not relevant to the request, the techniques used to empower the patients are.
  • Giving information was one of the techniques used to empower study participants. The doctors and nurses used various techniques to ensure that the patients were learning, including educational aids, instructional pamphlets, and involving family members.
  • The participants stated that education was a key factor for empowerment. This result was supported by previous research.
  • In addition to the education provided by the medical staff, the participants also mentioned educating themselves using the internet, peers, mass media programs, and literature.
  • This technique was further confirmed in a May 2017 that examined what breastfeeding mothers said they needed in order to feel empowered while breastfeeding. Knowledge of breastfeeding was one item women said was needed.

Providing Support

  • The breastfeeding study cited above, also found that another technique for empowering women while breastfeeding was to provide support. The perception of receiving support was actually more important than the support given.
  • The perception of support needed to come from three areas: health professionals, family and society.
  • In the previously cited COPD study, support from family and medical professionals was also found to help people feel empowered.

Helping Employees See Their Purpose

  • Multiple articles stated that ensuring employees know their purpose at work is a key to helping employees feel empowered.
  • Companies need to not only communicate the corporate mission to employees, but also ensure that employees know how their particular job contributes to achieving the company vision.
  • Employees need to be trained properly, given a complete list of what they are responsible for, and be given specific examples of how the work they do contributes to the company's bottom line or goals.

Giving Authority

  • When people feel they have the authority to make decisions and are not being micromanaged, it leads to feelings of empowerment.
  • Authority can be given by assigning more challenging tasks, letting employees complete projects using their own strategies, and providing training to ensure they have the skills to be successful.
  • By giving employees authority to complete jobs the way they see fit, innovation and creativity can flourish.
  • A 2018 study on empowering women in Tanzania found that giving women decision-making authority contributed to increased feelings of empowerment.

Research Strategy

To find studies that focused on techniques for helping people feel empowered, we utilized sources that were slightly older than 24 months. One study published in April 2017 was 30 months old, and another from May 2017 was 31 months old. Since the information from the studies was confirmed in more recent articles we found, we included them as still being relevant.
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The History of Empowerment

The theory of psychological empowerment was introduced in 1988 and focused on the motivational aspect of empowerment. It has been put into practice in workplaces, for reducing tobacco use, to help with the transition for youth leaving foster care, and to improve patient care in hospitals.

Genesis and Definition

  • The psychological perspective of empowerment was first introduced by Conger and Kanungo in 1988.
  • Although it was not called psychological empowerment by Conger and Kanungo, it was described as "empowerment as a motivational construct" and focused on the idea, proposed by psychologists, that people have a need for power.
  • Since people have an intrinsic need for self-determination and personal self-efficacy, anything managers can do to increase those feelings, will make people feel powerful, or empowered.
  • Psychological "empowerment refers to a process whereby an individual's belief in his or her self-efficacy is enhanced." This type of empowerment is based on perceptions of power.
  • In 1995, Spreitzer identified four aspects that enable intrinsic task motivation: "meaning, choice, competence, and impact..."


Youth Tobacco Control

  • A 2011 study found that psychological empowerment provides protective effects on tobacco use for youth.

Workplace Impact

  • Creativity and citizenship behavior were found to be the most impacted when employees felt empowered. The impact was less on routine tasks.
  • Another important result of empowering employees at work is that those employees trust management more.
  • When employees are empowered, they are more confident and assertive. These employees feel free to come up with creative solutions to problems and believe these ideas will be valued.

Youth Aging Out of Foster Care

  • A study published in 2018 found that when youth that were aging out of foster care participated in youth empowerment programs they had improved motivation, self-efficacy, and perceived control than youth that did not participate in the programs.

Youth Empowerment Solutions (YES) Program

  • The YES program was designed based on empowerment theory with the goal of engaging middle school students in promoting positive change in their communities.
  • The program utilizes "content focused on skill and confidence building (intrapersonal component), activities to help youth think critically about and develop a connection with their community (interactional component), and designing and implementing a community change project (behavioral component)."

Empowerment in Hospital Setting

  • Studies show that team empowerment has a positive effect on individual empowerment. However, team empowerment alone was not enough to improve outcomes. When the focus is on both team and individual empowerment, positive results are seen.
  • A critical component to improve both team and individual performance was "voice climate." This is whether individuals are encouraged to speak up and share ideas. When this is the case, individuals perform better.

Research Strategy

To explain the history of psychological empowerment and find examples of how it has been applied to improve people's lives and work, we utilized sources from 1988 and later, since 1988 was when the concept was first introduced.