You are on page 1of 15

The Case of Minding the Store

1.0 Introduction
Empowerment is the process of enabling or authorizing an individual to think,
behave, take action, and control work and decision making in autonomous ways. It
is the state of feeling self-empowered to take control of one's own destiny.
Empowerment means providing freedom for people to do successfully what they
want to do rather than getting them to do what managers want them to do.
Empowerment is a pull strategy rather push strategy. It refers to giving up
control and letting others make decisions, set goals, accomplish results and receive

2.0 Case Summery

On January 1, Ruth Cummings was formally named branch manager for the Saks
Fifth Avenue store in a suburb of Denver. Her boss, Ken Hoffman, gave her this
assignment on her first day: Ruth, Im putting you in charge of this store. Your job
will be to run it so that it becomes one of the best stores in the system. I have a lot
of confidence in you, so dont let me down.
One of the first things Ruth did was to hire an administrative assistant to handle
inventories. Because this was such an important part of the job, she agreed to pay
her assistant slightly more than the top retail clerks were making. She felt that
having an administrative assistant would free her to handle marketing, sales, and
personnel mattersareas she felt were crucial if the store was to be a success.
Within the week, however, she received a call from Hoffman: Say, Ruth, I heard
that you hired an administrative assistant to handle inventories. Dont you think
that is a bit risky? Besides, I think paying an assistant more than your top salesclerk
is damaging to morale in the store. I wish you had cleared this with me before you
made the move. It sets a bad precedent for the other stores, and it makes me look
like I dont know what is going on in the branches.
Three weeks later, Ruth appeared on a local noontime talk show to discuss new
trends in fashion. She had worked hard to make contact with the hosts of the show,
and she felt that public exposure like this would increase the visibility of her store.
Although the TV spot lasted only 10 minutes, she was pleased with her performance
and with the chance to get public exposure. Later that night at home, she received
another phone call from Hoffman: Dont you know the policy of Saks? Any TV
appearances made on behalf of the store are to be cleared through the main office.
Normally, we like to have representatives from the main store appear on these
kinds of shows because they can do a better job of plugging our merchandise. Its
too bad that you didnt notify someone of your intentions. This could be very
embarrassing for me.
Just before Easter, Ruth was approached in the store by one of the salesclerks. A
customer had asked to charge approximately $3,000 worth of china as a gift for his
HRM 631

Page 1

The Case of Minding the Store

wife. He had been a customer of the store for several years and Ruth had seen him
on several occasions, but store rules indicated that no charge could be made for
more than $1,000 for any reason. She told the customer that she was not
authorized to okay a charge of that amount, but that if he would visit the main store
in Denver, maybe arrangements could be made. Later in the day, an irate Hoffman
called again: What in the world are you thinking about, Ruth? Today we had a
customer come into the main store and say that you wouldnt make a sale to him
because the charge was too much. Do you know how long he has been a customer
of ours? Do you know how much he spends in the store every year? I certainly hope
we have not lost him as a customer because of your blunder. This makes me very
upset. Youve just got to learn to use your head.
Ruth thought about the conversation for several days and finally decided that she
needed to see Ken Hoffman. She called his secretary to schedule an appointment
for the following day.
By reading the case The case of Minding the Store it seems that Ken Hoffman
tried to empower Ruth by giving her the responsibility of that store. But after few
time he started interfering in Ruths activities about the store and broke some of the
guidelines related to empowerment & delegation and Ruth on the other hand took
some such decision which also violets some guidelines by her own. As a result, both
of them felt the need to sit together and discus the issues that are creating problem
in their working area. In this report we tried to figure out the problems regarding
empowerment and delegation between Ken Huffman and Ruth.

HRM 631

Page 2

The Case of Minding the Store

2.0 Guidelines related to empowerment violated in this
There are nine specific ways to foster empowerment. Ken Hoffman didnt follow
these rules and thus failed to produce a sense of competence choice, impact value
and security.

The first rule that Ken Hoffman violated was Articulating a clear vision and
goals. When Ruth Cummings was made the branch manager, she was told to make
the store one of the best in the system. He failed to share the vision of where the
organization is going and how Ruth can contribute as an individual.

The second blunder caused by Mr. Hoffman was not Fostering personal mastery
experiences. By successfully accomplishing a task, defeating an opponent, or
resolving a problem, people develop a sense of mastery. Hoffman should have
helped Ruth feel increasingly empowered by helping her develop an awareness that
she can succeed.

Modeling is another way to empower people. Hoffman didnt demonstrate the

correct behavior that Ruth should follow. Without the proper modeling, Ruth couldnt
presume that the task could be done, it is within her capabilities and success is
possible. As Hoffman worked at the main office and Ruth worked at a branch, It
wasnt possible for Huffman to show her how to accomplish work or to frequently
demonstrate success. Hoffman should have made it possible for Ruth to be able to
communicate with other successful branch manager who could have served as a
role model.

Another technique that was not followed by Ken Hoffman was Providing Support.
In order to help others experience empowerment, social and emotional support is
needed. If people are to feel empowered, managers should praise them, encourage
them, express approval of them and reassure them. It is important to express
confidence in employees by supervising them less closely. In this case we see that,
Hoffman didnt support Ruth in any ways. Instead he became very irritated each
time Ruth took ant decision by herself.

HRM 631

Page 3

The Case of Minding the Store

Creating Emotional Arousal helps replace negative emotions such as fear,
anxiety or crabbiness with positive emotions such as excitement, passion or
anticipation. Lack of emotional arousal makes it difficult for individuals to feel
empowered. In order to increase the sense of empowerment, periodic social
gathering should be held. All official communication need not be formal. Hoffman
did exactly the opposite. He communicated with Ruth only when he had any

Information is one of the most crucial management power tools. Mr. Hoffman
neglected an important part Providing Information of empowerment. When
managers provide their people with more rather than less information they gain a
sense of empowerment and are more likely to work productively, successfully and in
harmony with the managers wishes. Ruth wasnt provided with any information
regarding the norms of the store. She had no idea what rules are followed by
branches. She wasnt given clear direction regarding how much power she has.

Providing Resources is another important aspect of empowerment. When

Hoffman gave Ruth the responsibility of running the whole store, he should have
given her authority to spend money on things she considered to be important. In
the case we saw that Ruth hired an administrative assistant to handle inventory.
She needed the administrative assistant to free her to handle marketing, sales and
personnel matters. These were the things crucial if the store was to be a success.

The empowered people should be able to connect to outcomes . Ruth appeared

on a local noontime talk show to discuss new trends in fashion. She wanted to
promote the store. Hoffman didnt like this idea. According to him any public
appearances should be made by the main office. He is not letting Ruth take direct

Finally, Hoffman didnt Create Confidence in Ruth. He did not exhibit reliability,
consistency, fairness, personal concern, competence and expertise.

HRM 631

Page 4

The Case of Minding the Store

3.0 Guidelines related to delegation violated in this ca se:
There are ten principles regarding how to delegate. Some of these
principles were violated by Hoffman and Ruth.
1. Delegate completely
Hoffman should have clearly specified the constraints under which the
tasks will be performed. Every organization has rules and procedures,
resource constraints or boundaries that limit the kind of action that can
be taken. Hoffman should have specified precisely the level of initiative
expected. There are five levels of initiative. Hoffman should have
explained which of the following were applicable to Ruth.

Wait to be told what to do: Take action only after specific

directions are given.


Ask what to do: Some discretion is provided to subordinates in

that they have some control over the timing of the task but not
its content.


Recommend, than take action: This alternative is more

empowering because subordinates are given some freedom
over both the timing and the content of the delegated task.


Act, then report results immediately: Subordinates are given

the freedom to act on their own initiative, but they are
required to report to the manager immediately upon
completion to ensure that their actions are correct and
compatible with other organizational work.


Initiate action, and report only routinely: Subordinates receive

complete control over timing and over content of the task

2. Allow participation in the delegation of assignments

Hoffman needed to have a clear understanding with Ruth while
deciding what task is delegated to her and how she should do it. He
should have decided to provide her with the opportunities to decide
when tasks will be completed, how accountability will be determined,
when work will begin, or what methods and resources will be used in
task accomplishment.
3. Establish parity between authority and responsibility

HRM 631

Page 5

The Case of Minding the Store

The oldest and the most general rule of thumb in delegation is to match
the amount of responsibility given with the amount of authority
provided. The assigned responsibility should be accompanied with a
corresponding amount of discretion to make decisions and authority to
implement those decisions. Huffman clearly did not follow this rule. He
gave Ruth the responsibility to run the whole store but did not give her
any authority.
4. Provide adequate support for delegated tasks
When authority is delegated to subordinates, managers must provide
as much support to them as possible. Hoffman should have
continuously provided relevant information and resources to help Ruth
accomplish tasks.
5. Focus accountability on results
Once tasks are delegated and authority is provided, managers
generally should avoid closely monitoring the ways in which
subordinates accomplish task. This guideline was clearly violated by
Huffman. Even after the delegation he expected Ruth to discuss every
decision with him. He focused on the methods Ruth was using instead
of the results it would bring.
6. Avoid upward delegation
Managers must conscientiously resist all upward delegation in which
subordinates shift responsibility back onto the shoulders of the
superior who did the initial delegating. Managers who fail to forestall
upward delegation will find their time being tie up doing subordinates
work rather than their own. In this case we see Huffman is worried
about all the decisions made by Ruth. He cannot focus in the main
office if he is too much bothered about the branch.

HRM 631

Page 6

The Case of Minding the Store

4.0 Specific agenda items that Huffman and Ruth should

In their meeting Huffman and Ruth should discuss how this delegation can be
They should seek answer to the following questions.
1. Does Ruth have the needed information?
2. Do Huffman and Ruth share common value?
3. Who would be responsible for decision making?
4. Does Ruths responsibility matches her authority?
5. Is Ruth getting the support she needs?
6. Who is accountable for the result?
In their agenda they should decide using the following model
Deciding when

Deciding to Whom

Deciding how

Subordinates have
needed information


Begin with the end in


Commitment is crucial
Subordinates capabilities
will be expanded
Common values are

Involve no one
Consult with other
individuals, but decide alone

Allow for participation

Let the team decide

Match authority with


Participate as a member of
the team

Work within the structure

Sufficient time is available

Effective Outcomes of Delegation
Readily acceptable assignments
High morale and motivation
Organizational coordination and efficiency
Increased problem solving abilities

Delegate completely

Provide support
Focus accountability on
Delegate consistently
Avoid upward delegation
Clarify consequences

More discretionary time for managers

Stronger interpersonal relationships
Successful task completion

HRM 631

Page 7

The Case of Minding the Store

5.0 Factors in acquiring necessary elements of
Although Huffman delegated the responsibilities of a branch to Ruth, he is
reluctant in accepting Ruths decisions.
In order to solve this problem, Ruth must find out the reason behind
Huffmans unwillingness to empower Ruth. There are 3 main reasons behind
Attitudes about Subordinates
Managers often believe their subordinates are not competent enough to
accomplish the work. Ruth must convince Huffman that she is capable of
handling the job and taking decisions.
Personal Insecurities
Some managers fear they will lose the recognition and rewards associated
with successful task accomplishment if they empower others. Ruth has to
make Huffman understand that they have the same vision of making the
store successful.
Need for control
Non empowering managers also often have a high need to be in charge and
to direct and govern what is going on. Ruth has to convince Mr. Huffman that
she will not be able to perform successfully unless he gives her the authority
needed with her new responsibility.
In order for managers to empower others successfully, they need to have
five attributes. Empowered people can not only accomplish task, but they
also think differently about themselves. The dimensions are given below.
Five Core Dimensions of Empowerment

HRM 631

Self-efficacy (believe to be, able to

perform the task, capable of putting
forth the necessary effort, no outside
obstacles will prevent accomplishing
the task)

A sense of personal

Page 8

The Case of Minding the Store


Self-determination (people feel self

determined when they can
voluntarily and intentionally involve
them in tasks rather than being
forced and prohibited from

A sense of personal

Personal control ( a sense of personal

consequence, refers to a perception
of impact, to effect a change in
desired direction)

A sense of having

Meaning ( people value the purpose

or goals of the activity in which they
are engaged)

A sense of value in

Trust ( people are confident they will

be treated fairly and equitably)

a sense of security

Huffman can only be sure that Ruth is properly empowered after she has all the core
dimensions of empowerment.

6.0 Advise to Huffman as a consultant

If I were hired as a consultant to Huffman, I make him understand the relationships
among the elements of Empowerment and Empowered delegation.

HRM 631

Page 9

The Case of Minding the Store

Guidelines for
Mastery experiences

Experienced Empowerment

Desired Outcomes

Self determination
Personal consequence

Psychological and physical
Proactively and
Persistence in work
Interpersonal effectiveness
Intrinsic motivation
High morale and commitment

Emotional arousal
Connect to outcomes

Delegation Principles

Task acceptance
Motivation and morale
Discretionary time

Deciding when to
Deciding to whom to
Deciding how to

Tips for Successful Delegation

Be as specific as possible about what you want done.

It's no good hiring someone, telling them you need some help around the office, and then
complaining because they haven't done what you wanted them to do. Or expecting an
accountant to give you good advice when you haven't bothered to sit down with him and
talk about where your business is now and where you'd like to see it going. You have to
be very clear about what you need done and how you want it done if the delegation is
ever going to be successful.

Let the other person get on with it.

We smile when we hear about the business person who goes on vacation for a week but
phones the shop ten times a day every day she's gone, but weve all been there. You have
to realize that when you delegate something, it's literally out of your hands and you need
to avoid interfering with the process of getting it done. As hard as it is, wait for the end
product before you judge how successful the delegation has been.

HRM 631

Page 10

The Case of Minding the Store

Do not delegate many tasks at once.

In fact, if delegation makes you uncomfortable, you should start by delegating one thing
only. Your delegation comfort level will build over time as you see the job you've
assigned completed successfully. Then you'll be ready to delegate something else.

Do not give up too quickly.

My relationship with my first accountant was not a success. He was competent, but I
didnt feel that he was willing to give me enough of his attention. Rather than throw up
my hands and start to do my own accounting again (or worse, putting up with a
relationship I was not happy with), I went and found another accountant that Im much
happier with. When youre trying to delegate, youre not necessarily going to find the
right person the first time. But you need to persist and find that right person if delegating
that task is going to work.

Delegation goes against the grain for many small business owners. But if we want both our
businesses and our personal lives to thrive, delegation is a skill we have to master.

HRM 631

Page 11

The Case of Minding the Store

6.0 Conclusion

HRM 631

Page 12

The Case of Minding the Store

7.0 Behavioral Guidelines

For empowerment the following guidelines should be followed.
1. Articulating clear vision and goals for others by creating
a picture of desired future, identifying specific targets
and strategies, establishing goals that are specific,
measurable, aligned, reachable and time bound.
2. Fostering personal mastery experience for others by
dividing large task into smaller ones and delegate part
by part.
3. Successfully model the desired behavior by
demonstrating how to accomplish the task.
4. Providing needed support to other people by
recognizing and encouraging their work.
5. Arousing positive emotions by fostering an informal
6. Providing information needed by others to accomplish
their work.

Providing resources needed for others to accomplish

their work by providing training, technical and
administrative support.

8. Connecting others work to outcomes and effects.

9. Creating confidence among others by being reliable,
fair, caring and honest.

HRM 631

Page 13

The Case of Minding the Store

For empowered delegation, the following guidelines should be
1. Determining when to delegate by addressing the following criteria

HRM 631

Do subordinates have the necessary information or expertise?

Is the commitment of subordinates critical to successful


Will subordinates capabilities be expanded by this assignment?

Do subordinates share with management and each other

common values and perspectives?

Is there sufficient time to do an effective job of delegating?

Page 14

The Case of Minding the Store

2. Devid A. Whetten and Kim S. Cameron Developing Management
Skills Sixth Edition

HRM 631

Page 15