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Chapter 15. Power, Power. Who's Got the ... > Making Empowerment Work in the Team - Pg. 191

Power, Power. Who's Got the Power? 191 Empower people who deal with customer problems to make decisions without the need to seek approval from above. For example, at Nordstrom any sales clerk can make exchanges, give refunds, or provide special service. At AT&T Universal Credit Company, requests for credit limit increases are handled by the person receiving the call. Full Support of Top Management Empowerment works most effectively when a company's CEO empowers its senior management group, which, in turn, passes that empowerment down through the organization. Many CEOs, like Jack Welch of General Electric and Jerry Junkins of Texas Instruments, have done just that, and the results have been outstanding. Junkins considers the empowerment given to his staff and in turn to 1,900 teams the number one strength of his company. A good example of empowerment in action comes from the General Motors Saturn division. Any assembly line worker can push the button that stops the line if he or she sees something that needs correction. GM used an example of this in a TV ad. It described the reaction of an employee who stopped the assembly line when he realized that a part had not been inserted properly on a chassis. The cor- rection took just a few seconds, but the employee said that it made him feel good that he had the power to stop the line--an action reserved in most operations for a manager--and that he was able to help maintain the quality of Saturn's cars. In addition to General Electric and Texas Instruments, many major companies, such as Kodak, Intel, and Federal Express, have reported that instituting empowered teams has made them able to not only keep up but also move ahead in their tough, competitive industries. Thousands of smaller companies relate similar experiences.