Building an Infrastructure for Empowerment
So how do we achieve the amazing outcomes we just discussed? By building an effective empowerment infrastructure. There are several success factors necessary to build an effective infrastructure for empowerment in any organization. These success factors will inculcate the culture of empowerment and begin to build trust with the staff. The three success factors are first of all a supportive hospital administration, transformational leaders and a formalized empowerment infrastructure (Gokenbach, 2007). I will discuss these three components.
- 1. Supportive hospital administration: There is no way to build an empowered work environment without the staff feeling supported and trusted by senior administration. The flavor of the sundae starts at the top and if the culture of empowerment begins there it is easier to cascade through the organization. There also needs to be an expectation from senior leadership that all members and disciplines in the organization communicate, deliver and support each other. The absence of such leadership will lead to a unilateral approach that fails to engage the entire organization and leads to a disjointed approach to care delivery.
- 2. Transformational leaders: As previously discussed, transformational leadership is the most effective approach for healthcare professionals.
All leaders in healthcare organizations need to be transformational. The reason to focus this specifically on nursing in this segment is secondary to the fact that in any organization, nursing is the largest department with the most contact with the patient. Nurses are also the ones that are there around the clock to provide continuity of care. The challenge is that all nursing leaders need to embrace and learn to lead from a transformational approach. At all levels of the management structure, leaders need to be coached and educated on the behaviors of transformational leaders. Leaders need to be open to the recommendations of the staff and willing to allow them to be innovative and improve their environments.
3. Formalized infrastructure: Lastly, it is important to create a comprehensive infrastructure that presents a pictorial model, vision, by-laws and operational structure that can be understood by the staff. This will depend on the size of the organization and whether there is a corporate structure in place as well. The most effective strategy for developing this model is to include the ideas of the staff and others that will be affected by the operation of the model. I have worked with the staff to created several different empowerment models and they all have been a bit different based on the structure, size and needs of the organization. Creating a unique structure designed by staff nurses and supported by leaders is the best scenario for success.