The term empowerment has come into common usage but is open not only to ambiguous interpretation but to misuse. What is needed is not only a common framework of understanding (a model) but insight into the nature of power in the organisation and essential supervisory and managerial learning in an empowered environment. At the heart of the challenge lies a need to define the power vacuum that supervisors must move into, a need to understand better the issues inherent in managing job boundaries, and a need to establish the context and support for change by developing what can best be described as a learning culture. The article is based on the practical experience of a large organisation and focuses on several development models that, in particular, outline the stages of supervisory growth from administration to coach; define a matrix of the supervisor′s potential power base; explore the difference between traditional and empowered thinking in job design; and explain the organisation′s “learning net”.
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