Introduction Participative (or participatory) management, otherwise known as employee involvement or participative decision making, encourages the involvement of stakeholders at all levels of an organization in the analysis of problems, development of strategies, and implementation of solutions. Employees are invited to share in the decision-making process of the firm by participating in activities such as setting goals, determining work schedules, and making suggestions.
Other forms of participative management include increasing the responsibility of employees (job enrichment); forming self-managed teams, quality circles, or quality-of-work-life committees; and soliciting survey feedback. Participative management, however, involves more than allowing employees to take part in making decisions. It also involves management treating the ideas and suggestions of employees with consideration and respect. The most extensive form of participative management is direct employee ownership of a company.
The concept of participative management is applied by the managers who understand the importance to human intellect and seek a strong relationship with their employees. They understand that the employees are the facilitators who deal directly with the customers and satisfy their needs. To beat the competition in market and to stay ahead of the competition, this form of management has been adopted by many organizations. They welcome the innovative ideas, concepts and thoughts from the employees and involve them in decision making process.
The idea behind employee involvement at every stage of decision making is absolutely straight. Open and honest communication always produces good results both for organization as well as workers. Freedom and transparency in company’s operations take it to the next level and strengthens the basis of the organization. On the other hand, there are several companies that straightway rule out the possibility of participative decision making process. According to them, employees misuse their freedom of expression and participation in decision making as it provides higher status to employees and empowers them.
Definition of participative management It is very difficult to define ‘Participative Management’, because concentrators differ in their views depending on the socio-economic goals of the countries they belong to. However it is generally agreed that the influence of Participative Management is quite significant indeed. Allport (1945) refers to, “Participation in decision-making as active (ego) involvement”‘. Schultz (1951) regards, “It as a feeling of obligation to work for the best interests of a group”2.
Viteies (1953) holds that, “employee participation in decision-making in a democratic atmosphere created by ‘permissive’ leadership, facilitates the development of ‘internalized’ motivation, and saves to raise the levels of the employee production and morale” According to Davls (1957), “Participation may be defined as the mental and emotional involvement of a person in a group situation which encourages him to contribute to group goals and share responsibilities in them. Tarmenbun (1966) defines participation as the “formal Involvement of members in the exercise of control, usually through decision-making in group meetings.
Lamners (1967) pointed out, “participation in decision-making may be defined as the totality of such forms of upward exertion of power by subordinates in organizations as are perceived in this sense can be of two varieties i . e. , direct or indirect. Sawtell (1968) has described the concept as, “any or all of the process by which employees rather than managers contribute positively towards the reaching of managerial decisions which affect their work. The International Institute for Labor Studies (1971) describes participation as, “process whereby workers have a share in the reaching of managerial decisions in the enterprise”‘ .
Fox (1971) described participation as a ‘procedural orientation’ and offers the following account of possible levels of the workers Involvement: “He may seek the right simply to be informed of proposed decisions in the hope that his reactions may be taken in to account; or to protest against decision when made; or to made suggestions before they are made; or to participate jointly, directly or indirectly through representatives, with management In actually making them, or to make them In concert with his fellows and impose them on management”.
Most of the definitions cited above appear to be less explicit; they fail to mention the central theme of participation -joint decision-making by superiors and subordinates. The definitions put forth by Davis, Larmers, Vlteles and Fox seem to be more appropriate in the present context. Historical evolution of Participative Management The meaning of the concept ‘Participative Management’ needs to be understood in the background of its historical evolution from the beginning of this century.
It has been developed and improved in different forms in different countries to suit the requirements of the political system and economic structure of the countries concerned. Since the concept of Participative Management is mainly developed and being implemented in the western industrialized countries, an attempt is also made in this assignment to present the historical evolution of the concept in most of the developed countries. In recent years research and discussions on workers’ participation in decision-making have dominated much of management literature.
In its broadest possible sense, workers’ participation means wider involvement and participation by a company’s employees in the decision-making process of that organization. Participation in decision-making is perhaps meant to include all employees. The concept, ‘Participation’ has a long history of evolution and it is not a new concept altogether. From the time of Rig Veda in India and Plato in European thoughts, the problem of ownership of wealth and employer- employee relations have been the subject matter of profound thinking.
Recently the concept of participation is receiving special attention from the Governments, the Industrial Managers and the Academicians. The underlying theory behind ‘Participative Management’ can be stated as follows: Generally workers have some views and suggestions in their minds for a particular problem and wish to put it before the managers and supervisors. They feel that, their suggestions would be suitable for the prevailing circumstances, and should find a due place in the management’s policies. The management normally takes the decision based on its own experience and imposes them on their subordinates.
This is one of the most important factors causing labor-management conflict. The suggestions offered by the workers may or may not be relevant but ignoring of their views without assessing them properly may create frustration in the minds of the workers about the intention of the management. This makes workers alienated from management. This type of situation can be averted if the views of workers are considered and implemented in relevant cases in designing managerial policies and also in process of decision-making.
The participation of the workers in the management may bring a higher level of satisfaction among the workers that they are also responsible for the consequences (either success or failure) of the policies implemented. Hence they will take utmost care In solving the issues with a feeling that the enterprise is their own establishment. It may also help to remove the feeling of alienation of the workers towards the management as well as others In the me institution. The concept of workers’ participation in management emanated from the horror of Marxian theory of class conflict.
After a long struggle between labor and management, both the parties have come closer and realized that participation and co-operation between them would solve most of the problems resulting in enhancement of labor productivity, labor efficiency and the profitability of the enterprise. The concept of participation, though evolved over a long period of time, still it suffers from lack of clarity and precision. The exact meaning, significance and process of this vital aspect of labor-management relations need to be understood clearly in the decision-making process of management.
The management experts and executives are proclaiming that, the concept is a tool for improving the overall performance of an enterprise. For them, It means that workers are given an opportunity to take part in those decisions which affect their wages, their working conditions, their very jobs, and this participation paves the way for a harmonious industrial relation and an atmosphere conducive to increase productivity and efficiency. Most of the scholars in the field treated participation as a panacea to solve all managerial problems. But, participation is let alone a panacea.
Yet when understood and properly applied, it can lead the organization towards its goal. Scope of Participative Management The scope of workers’ involvement in managerial decision-making may extend to social, economic and personnel decision making depending upon the requirements of the organization. But there is a difference of opinion about the extent to which employees can participate in managerial decision-making process. Should they be equal partners and make joint decisions or should workers be given opportunities through their seniors to come up with the ideas.
The first school of thoughts favors the actual participation of workers while the second school of thoughts suggests the consultation of workers in managerial decision making. It is up to the management to decide which style it prefers and till what extent it requires involvement of employees. However, if we talk about the scope of workers’ participation in social, economic and personnel decision-making, it may have a direct impact on some of the most crucial activities of the organization.
Let’s read further to understand how these three groups of managerial decision-making can affect any industrial establishment: Social Decision-Making: It refers to employee involvement in decision making regarding hours of work, rules and regulations at workplace, welfare measures, workers’ safety, employee welfare, health and sanitation. In this category, employees have a say in decisions in these areas. They may take an advantage of their liberty and sometimes, can dominate the management. Here the concept of bounded or restricted participation can work well.
Economic/Financial Decision-Making: It includes involvement of employees on various financial or economic aspects such as the methods of manufacturing, cost cutting, automation, shut-down, mergers and acquisition and lay-offs. Inviting ideas from employees on various issues like how to cut down the operating cost can work wonders. Personnel Decision-Making: The employees’ participation in personnel decision-making refers to their involvement in various management processes including recruitment and selection, work distribution, promotions, demotions and transfers, grievance handling, settlements, voluntary retirement schemes and so on.
Participation of employees in these processes can safeguard their interests and motivate them to work hard for the betterment of self as well as the organization. Employee participation in decision-making process although is beneficial. However, there may be some limits on it to ensure that they do not take advantage of their liberty and right of participation. There are several ways through which employees can participate in the whole process.
Some of them are financial participation, participation through collective bargaining, participation at the board level, participation through ownership, participation through work councils and committees and participation through suggestion schemes. Anyone of these ways or processes can be adopted by the management to ensure participation from workers. Objectives of Participative Management Participative management acts as a force to motivate employees to meet specific organizational goals. The main idea behind this style of management s not only using physical capital but also making optimum utilization of intellectual and emotional human capital. This is the process of involving people in decision making process to ensure that everyone’s psychological needs are met. It, in turn, increases the job satisfaction among employees and improves the quality of their work life. Motivated employees are the biggest assets of an organization and participative management is an effective strategy to retain the best talents of the industry.
Participatory Management or co-determination is seen as the quick cure for poor morale, employee attrition, low productivity and job dissatisfaction. However, it may not be appropriate to empower employees at every level but use of joint decision making at certain levels in organization can work wonders. Let us read further to explore the main objectives to introduce participative style of management in organizations: To Make Best Use of Human Capital: Participative management does not restrict organizations to exploit only physical capital of employees. Rather it makes the best use of human intellectual and emotional capital.
It gives employees an opportunity to contribute their ideas and suggestions to improve business processes and create a better working environment. To Meet the Psychological Needs of Employees: When employees have a say in decision making process, it gives them a psychological satisfaction. It is a simple force that drives them to improve their performance, create a proper channel of communication and find practical solutions to design better organizational processes. To Retain the Best Talent: Participatory management is one of the most effective strategies to retain the best talent in the industry.
It gives employees a sense of pride to have a say in organizational decision making process. Once they are valued by their seniors, they stick to the organization and become management’s partners in meeting specific goals and achieving success. To Increase Industrial Productivity: In today’s competitive world, motivation, job security and high pay packages are not enough to increase industrial productivity. Leadership, flexibility, delegation of authority, industrial democracy and employee say in decision making are important to increase annual turnover of any organization.
To Establish Harmonious Industrial Relationship: Participatory from of management is an unbeatable tact to establish and maintain cordial relationships with employees and workers union. The success of an organization depends on its human resources. Employee empowerment acts as a strong force to bind the employees and motivate to give them their best to the organization. To Maintain a Proper Flow of Communication: Two-way communication plays an important role in the success of any organization. Employee participation in decision making ensures proper flow of communication in the organization.
Everyone contributes their best and tries to strengthen the organization by contributing their best to improve business processes. Participative management is beneficial to organization as well as employees. It gives employees a higher degree of enjoyment at work place that drives them to work harder. It is equally rewarding for the management as it ensures tremendous improvement in work culture within the organization as well as increase in its productivity. Features of Participative Management
Employees have always been bossed around their managers and told what they are supposed to do. They never had the authority to decide things in the company. Gradually, times are changing and employees are encouraged to participate in organization’s decision making process. Management motivates them to come up with ideas and suggestions that can make organizational processes far more efficient. The main idea behind adopting participatory form of management is to work together, achieve targeted goals in minimum possible time and stay ahead of competition.
For some companies, participative management is still a foreign subject. The concept is not widespread and is still restricted to a few organizations. They have such a weird perception towards it that they can’t even picture it working. The management in such companies doesn’t like employees questioning its authority. But the organizations that have successfully adopted this particular style of management they look upon it as a means to achieve their targets and create a sound working environment. The concept is gaining world-wide recognition and popularity day by day.
Some companies still stick to conventional ways of management while others are encouraging employees to contribute to the suggestion box. Let us know about its features and see how participative management can work wonders: Ethical Dimensions: Participatory management has ethical dimensions and based on morals, principles and values. In this form of management, every one is treated equally when it comes to organizational decision making. It is based on employee empowerment, responsibility sharing and delegation of authority. Proper Channel of Communication: Participative form of management encourages two-way communication.
It is not only management that decides what employees need to do but it also encourages employees to participate in decision making and give ideas and suggestions to make organizational processes better and more efficient. They are allowed to share their problems, views, ideas and feedback with their managers. Empowers Employees: Participative style of management gives employees a chance to participate in management processes. They are encouraged to come up with their views. Gone are the days when employees were bossed around by their managers. Now they are to be treated like co-workers.
This provides a higher status to employees as they also have a say in decision making. Recognition of Human Dignity: In this form of management, all employees are treated equally irrespective of their designations when it comes to giving ideas and suggestions for organizational decision making process. Employees are no more the servants of managers but are the most important assets of an organization. Psychological Satisfaction to Employees: Most of our lives are spent at workplace. It is important for everyone to have psychological satisfaction as far as our employment is concerned.
Commitment from the organization, respecting the dignity of individuals and co-determining the company policies are some of the features of participative management that provide psychological satisfaction to employees. Participative Management is a universally recognized concept but still most organizations hesitate to adopt it. Through this style of management, both the parties, employer and employees, are satisfied. It brings management and employees closer and thus, should be adopted open heartedly. Participative Management Model Figure shows how a participative model works Pre-requisites of Participative Management
A common misconception by managers is that participative management involves simply asking employees to participate or make suggestions. Effective programs involve more than just a suggestion box. In order for participative management to work, several issues must be resolved and several requirements must be met. First, managers must be willing to relinquish some control to their workers; managers must feel secure in their position in order for participation to be successful. Often managers do not realize that employees’ respect for them will increase instead of decrease when they implement a participative management style.
The success of participative management depends on careful planning and a slow, phased approach. Changing employees’ ideas about management takes time, as does any successful attempt at a total cultural change from a democratic or autocratic style of management to a participative style. Long-term employees may resist changes, not believing they will last. In order for participation to be effective, managers must be genuine and honest in implementing the program. Many employees will need to consistently see proof that their ideas will be accepted or at least seriously considered.
The employees must be able to trust their managers and feel they are respected. Successful participation requires managers to approach employee involvement with an open mind. They must be open to new ideas and alternatives in order for participative management to work. It is important to remember that although the manager may not agree with every idea or suggestion an employee makes, how those ideas are received is critical to the success of participative management. Employees must also be willing to participate and share their ideas. Participative management does not work with employees who are passive or simply do not care.
Many times employees do not have the skills or information necessary to make good suggestions or decisions. In this case it is important to provide them with information or training so they can make informed choices. Encouragement should be offered in order to accustom employees to the participative approach. One way to help employees engage in the decision-making process is by knowing their individual strengths and capitalizing on them. By guiding employees toward areas in which they are knowledgeable, a manager can help to ensure their success.
Before expecting employees to make valuable contributions, managers should provide them with the criteria that their input must meet. This will aid in discarding ideas or suggestions that cannot be implemented, are not feasible, or are too expensive. Managers should also give employees time to think about ideas or alternative decisions. Employees often do not do their most creative thinking on the spot. Another important element for implementing a successful participative management style is the visible integration of employees’ suggestions into the final decision or implementation.
Employees need to know that they have made a contribution. Offering employees a choice in the final decision is important because it increases their commitment, motivation, and job satisfaction. Sometimes even just presenting several alternatives and allowing employees to choose from them is as effective as if they thought of the alternatives themselves. If the employees’ first choice is not feasible, management might ask for an alternative rather than rejecting the employee input. When an idea or decision is not acceptable, managers should provide an explanation.
If management repeatedly strikes down employee ideas without implementing them, employees will begin to distrust management, thus halting participation. The key is to build employee confidence so their ideas and decisions become more creative and sound. Ground Preparation for Participative Management Participative management in itself does not ensure success and should not be seen as tool to create magic within no time. There is certain ground preparation required before an organization can decide for implementation of the management style.
The following things need to be taken care of: Clearly Defined Objectives: Each party to decision making called as the participants namely the management and the workers must have clearly defined objectives. Operationally there should be no clash between the objectives of the two. Clear Communication: There should be clear and timely communication between the management and the workers or the employees. This helps in building trust between the two parties. Workers also gain a sense of responsibility increasing their stake in their work and in the organization as a whole.
Choosing the Representative: It is important for the workers to choose their representative from among themselves and not any person from outside the labor union. This is important for two reasons. First, the person is able to better understand the problems of his colleagues and report the same to the management. Second, the management is keener to talk and listen from a person who works within the organization. Training the Workers: Training and awareness regarding the usefulness of participative management is required to make it more effective.
Further training is required to ensure that every person at every level knows his what contribution he/she has to make. For example, participation at the level of middle management is different compared to participation at lower or top level. Confidence: Both parties workers and the management need a trust to develop between the two. Participation should not be perceived as intimidation to the position of any. If workers think that their status will be adversely affected, they refuse to participate. Similarly, if managers suspect that they will lose their authority, they will decline to participate.
Increasing Workers Participation: Workers participation needs to be increased at each level in order to encourage them to contribute meaningfully. Further, their suggestions and recommendations need to be treated with dignity and respect. Nothing can be more motivating than seeing your recommendation being put to practice. Legal Action: Since participative management requires structural and cultural change which takes time. There is resistance to change offered by the employees especially those who perceive it as a threat to their status and authority within the organization.
If allowed to take shape a natural speed, it will take time to show results. Therefore, some legislative action is required against the erring employees. Participative management may be a solution for each and every type of organization. It is a big challenge in big organizations with big employee size. The implementation needs to be carefully planned and implemented gradually. Participation and Performance – Importance of Participation The greatest and widely accepted benefit of participation is the increased work ownership of employee.
An employee is better able to relate himself/herself with his or her work and this improves performance and efficiency at work. John Newstrom and Keith Davis worked extensively upon the subject. They identified three variables that lead to increased performance. These variables are a part of participative management. According to them, the three variables that collectively enhance performance are: Removing conditions of Powerlessness: This implies empowering the employees to take decisions on their own, be enterprising and take more risks. This requires a wholesome change in the entire organizational structure and culture.
Then leadership becomes a crucial aspect. The choice of a leader who can inspire, motivate and delegate with equal efficacy assumes importance. The reward system needs a revamp. Psychologically empowerment connotes increased responsibilities in the mind of an employee, a hike is required. Finally, participation should result in either job enrichment or job enlargement. Job enlargement means expanding the job responsibilities – adding task elements horizontally. Job enrichment on the other hand means that the job becomes more rewarding – monetarily and otherwise.
Enhance Job Related Self Efficacy: Increase in responsibilities also demands increased efficiency at work. This is achieved by providing training helping an employee achieve job mastery. Laying down benchmarks for a certain set of responsibilities by the use of role models (those who have already accomplished tasks in similar capacities under similar workload) also benefits. Since training induces behavioral changes there is a need for reinforcing the new behaviors. It is this change in attitude and behavior that brings in increased efficiency.
Each employee also requires support from those above him and people working his supervision. Support functions become important because the individual now himself delegates his own work. This trickles down to the bottom or the lower level and this is how participation happens across various levels. Perception of Empowerment: Employees often misunderstand the idea of participation. There may be a certain group of employees who participate aggressively and in the process their own work gets affected. These perceptions need to be taken care of otherwise they may be well the undoing of all the good work.
Empowerment means more competence and value addition to work. It means that individual accepts the responsibilities with humility and fulfills them with grace and efficacy. It calls for increased use of talent. It is in wake of this that the concept of talent management is fast evolving. One limitation of participative management is that the results or decision making doesn’t improve overnight. The above mentioned three variables have been effectively used in organizations implementing participative management. They can act as a catalyst in speeding up the results.
Benefits of Participative Management Participative management as a decision making style is not welcome by one and all! Labor or trade unions, for example do not approve of this. They argue that it is in fact disadvantageous to welfare of the workers because the participative processes give deep insights to the management, which in turn puts the latter in a better bargaining position while dealing with unions. The benefits of participative management as follows: Innovation and increased efficiency: The problem solving process and openness to new ideas can result in innovation.
Apart from this as mentioned above there is also knowledge sharing amongst the workers and the managers. This means that those who are part of a certain process at the ground level give inputs for improved efficiency of the same. This has dual implications, helping improve the quality of product and curtailing the cost of manufacture. Timeliness: There is improved communication between the managers and the workers and between workers across different units. A loophole or flaw is reported in time. Employee satisfaction and Motivation: Empowering the employees increases their ownership or stake in their work.
This increases efficiency and productivity. Consequently there is decreased absenteeism and less employee turnover. This also works in attracting more people towards the organization and the job. Product quality: A say in decision making means that workers can immediately pin point and suggest remedial measures for improving the efficiency of the process they are apart of. This means that quality control in product or service is exercised for the lowest level. Less supervision requirements: There is greater focus on management of self with due emphasis of widening one’s skill set.
One of the major benefits of this is that there is a lesser need of supervision and support staff. Better grievance redresser: Increased communication paves way for reduced number of grievances and quick and effective resolution of dispute (often on the spot). Union – management relationship is also benefited and strengthened. Hiring Flexibility: Hiring flexibility is increased as a result of cross training. Increased coordination among team members also offers a comfort zone for the newly hired. Participative management thus results in overall increase of the ownership of work of an employee.
This empowerment can lead to increased efficiency, better productivity, improved morale and job satisfaction. But the fact the participative management requires an overall change in the organizational culture, the implementation of the same, especially when there is a bureaucratic style of decision making in place, can be a major challenge! Limitations of Participative Management Participative management is undoubtedly one of the better approaches to management. But like any other style of decision making there are certain limitations.
These limitations arise either externally or internally vis-a-vis the implementation. The following are certain limitations of participative management: Complexity of Technology and Organizations: Organizations and Technology are so complicated these days that there are specialized workers required for each job. Workers cannot extend beyond a certain limit in participation. There are instances when a certain department or group participates aggressively and a corresponding group acts equally opposite. Then there are limitations at the level at which you work.
Workers, for example, can participate in matters pertaining to operations, policy matters remain outside their reach. Employee’s right of not participating: An employee has the right to not participate. Certain people do not believe in the usefulness of participation and therefore opt out of the same. Some labor unions for example question the usefulness of participation reasoning that participation offers the management deep insights into the workers and they may then use it against the latter. Manipulation: Managers may sometimes use participation to manipulate employees.
This may be both conscious and subconscious. Similarly, representatives of the labor unions may also exploit the workers in the name of participation. Workers Psychology: An existent psyche amongst the employees, that they are the workers and their primary purpose is to serve their masters (management) prevents them from participating. General Bias: Resistance to change inside the organization as mentioned earlier is the biggest hurdle to participative management. Managers decline to share power or to delegate apprehending that they may lose authority by doing so.
Workers similarly show disinterest in the participation presuming everything to be well in order. Further there is bias from the top management who step back on their promises when they fail to see participation deliver results in quick time. Trade Unions: Trade unions are integral to the success of participative management; they may be equally detrimental to the success of the same. Most of the trade unions engage in politics and are little bothered about participation. Add to it, the approach of representatives or individuals is also not very favorable. Workers join trade unions for personal rather than organizational reasons.
Membership is regarded as a kind of protection against mishaps like accidents, dismissal and other problems whereby union interventions can rescue the worker. Naturally, the motive of participation is diluted. Participative management cannot work in isolation. It involves each and every member of the organization. For deriving benefits and success out of the same, no single member or employee group can be left out. There are limitations but they arise because there either one or the other group is left out or there is serious communication gap that needs to be taken care of.
Methods/Ways of Participation of Employees in Decision-Making Participation of workers in decision-making process has resulted in successful value creation in many organizations. Though the extent to which employees should participate in organizational decision making is still a matter of debate. Some say that workers’ union should participate with management as equal partners while some believe in restricted or bounded participation, that is, participation of employees or workers to a limited extent.
However, there are a number of ways through which employees can participate in decision-making process of any organization. Participation at the Board Level: Representation of employees at the board level is known as industrial democracy. This can play an important role in protecting the interests of employees. The representative can put all the problems and issues of the employees in front of management and guide the board members to invest in employee benefit schemes. Participation through Ownership: The other way of ensuring workers’ participation in organizational decision making is making them shareholders f the company. Inducing them to buy equity shares, advancing loans, giving financial assistance to enable them to buy equity shares are some of the ways to keep them involved in decision-making. Participation through Collective Bargaining: This refers to the participation of workers through collective agreements and by deciding and following certain rules and regulations. This is considered as an ideal way to ensure employee participation in managerial processes. It should be well controlled otherwise each party tries to take an advantage of the other.
Participation through Suggestion Schemes: Encouraging your employees to come up with unique ideas can work wonders especially on matters such as cost cutting, waste management, safety measures, reward system, etc. Developing a full-fledged procedure can add value to the organizational functions and create a healthy environment and work culture. For instance, Satyam is known to have introduced an amazing country-wide suggestion scheme, the Idea Junction. It receives over 5,000 ideas per year from its employees and company accepts almost one-fifth of them.
Participation through Complete Control: This is called the system of self management where workers union acts as management. Through elected boards, they acquire full control of the management. In this style, workers directly deal with all aspects of management or industrial issues through their representatives. Participation through Job Enrichment: Expanding the job content and adding additional motivators and rewards to the existing job profile is a fine way to keep workers involved in managerial decision-making.
Job enrichment offers freedom to employees to exploit their wisdom and use their judgment while handling day-to-day business problems. Participation through Quality Circles: A quality circle is a group of five to ten people who are experts in a particular work area. They meet regularly to identify, analyze and solve the problems arising in their area of operation. Anyone, from the organization, who is an expert of that particular field, can become its member. It is an ideal way to identify the problem areas and work upon them to improve working conditions of the organization.
Employees can participate in organizational decision making through various processes mentioned above. However, there are other ways such as financial participation, Total Quality Management, participation through empowered teams and joint committees and councils through which they can contribute their share in making the organizations a better place to work. Advantages and Disadvantages of Participative Management Advantages of Participative Management Participative Management is an approach, which gives everyone in the organization an opportunity to contribute their skills, knowledge and talent to improve the organization.
Participative management is a method, which gives employees responsibility, accountability, and authority over their work. The method provides simple tools for employees to improve their work performance and positively impact the bottom line. The process provides an environment to make employee needs known and creates a vehicle for improved communication between all areas of the organization. What differentiates this work is that people’s recommendations are actually implemented and acted upon. People solve their own issues and feel empowered within the process of doing so.
Executives and employees learn to redesign their workplace to be participative and self-managing. This does not mean you do away with management. People are not asked to do things that they are not capable of accomplishing. There may be training involved to improve skill sets. This does not resemble laissez-faire management in any way. Managers and employees look at a piece of work and ask what roles and responsibilities need to be placed within the boundaries of the work in order to achieve individual and organization goals?
The idea is to allow as much responsibility, accountability and reasonable authority to people actually doing the work. Participative management addresses the criteria for superior performance. These criteria have been researched, field-tested, around the world and their validity has been proven in many work settings. Participative management creates a workforce that is committed to obtaining positive results for the organization such as increased productivity and improved quality. People are engaged and motivated and are willing to put forth energy to improve work performance.
Participative management works best when the organization has a clear and compelling mission and vision. Employees then can align their personal mission and vision to the organization. Management in most organizations is constantly attempting to get people more involved in improving the organization. People run up against a brick wall because of the bureaucratic structures that still exist in their organizations. This occurs even after many attempts at improvement. Management has not made it to people’s advantage to participate, communicate, and share what they know with teammates.
Why participate and give ideas for improvement when they are disregarded and not rewarded. People will always do what is in their best interest. If the stated culture of the organization is one thing and the actual behavior of management is not congruent with how management behaves, then people do not trust what is communicated by management. People are very resourceful and learn to survive in any culture. Management can attempt to dictate results and people will do what is required of them to meet the very minimum of expectations in this kind of environment. They will rarely do excellent work.
The majority of people want to do good work yet the work structures they find themselves in do not reward good work. When you are competing within an organization to get a raise or a promotion and you have to impress your supervisor you will not share important information with your team members. It is not to your advantage to do this because you are not paid and rewarded to do so. So how we structure work, pay for work and appraise work has to change. Participative management makes it to people’s advantage to share their knowledge because when their team is successful they are successful.
The group excels because the criteria for superior performance are being applied and top management sees the benefit of all employees contributing to the organization. They want to acknowledge a resource they already pay for their people. Participative management enables organizations to improve performance through a fast, an economical method called the participative design workshop. It clearly states that the design principle underlying the work is a participative method that has clear goals and simple tools for work process improvement.
It can be utilized to improve the structure of the organization or just for work process improvement. This will depend on the needs of the organization. The workshop begins with the assessment phase, which begins with briefing one. Briefing one is a short presentation of the bureaucratic design principles and its inverse relationship to the criteria for superior performance. Participants fill out the criteria for superior performance and the skills assessment matrix. The design phase begins with briefing two which is an introduction to the participative design principle and why it leverages the criteria for superior performance.
It explains why organizations perform better using these methods. Groups chart their current work process or work flow and flag areas for improvement. They are given clear boundaries in which to work by management. Next, they design improvements for the areas that are deficient and negotiate with management on what is possible to change within the work process. If management wants structure addressed then the group can tackle this issue as well. The workshop gets excellent results even without addressing the issue of organizational structure.
Using participative management strategies, effective leaders encourage their employees to identify performance gaps and set their own career path using company resources, including formal education, workshops and self-paced courses. Employees use assessment tools to identify their strengths and weaknesses in achieving company goals. Then, they create a development plan and review it with their managers. This enables the employee to create a customized action for improving her skills over the coming year.
By empowering the employee to assess her own competency and establish a plan, the leader guides the employee and provides a supportive atmosphere in which to develop the skills necessary to achieve the company’s strategic goals. When companies find out through employee satisfaction surveys that subordinates feel disgruntled and disillusioned, effective leaders use participative management techniques to get the organization back on track. By running focus groups and personal interviews, effective leaders get input from their subordinates about the true state of the organization.
Using this valuable feedback, these leaders realign their strategic objectives. Effective leaders reward employees for innovative ideas. Using quality management techniques such as Lean Six Sigma, managers identify opportunities to improve company processes that reduce product errors, eliminate waste and increase customer satisfaction. By involving employees closest to the problems, such as customer service representatives, effective leaders gather data to determine the root cause and fix problems. In global organizations, effective leaders ensure that teams work well together.
By running workshops and team-building exercises, these leaders encourage their subordinates to learn about their co-workers, business partners and suppliers. By recognizing that succeeding in a dynamic marketplace requires expertise in dealing with different cultures, customs and traditions, effective leaders foster a collaborative work environment. Disadvantages of Participative Management There is a flip side to everything; participative management stands no exception to it. Whereas this style of leadership or decision making leads to better participation of all the employees, there are undoubtedly some disadvantages too.
Decision making slows down: Participative management stands for increased participation and when there are many people involved in decision making, the process definitely slows down. Inputs and feedback starts pouring from each side. It takes time to verify the accuracy of measurements which means that decision making will be slowed down. Security Issue: The security issue in participative management also arises from the fact that since early stages too many people are known to lots of facts and information. This information may transform into critical information in the later stages.
There is thus a greater apprehension of information being leaked out. The advantages seem to outnumber the disadvantages. This however is no assurance that one should blindly adopt it for his/her organization. Organizations are different and therefore the culture, the human resources. A deep understanding of both is required in order to ascertain a decision making style and adopt the same. Reasons for Failure of Participative Management Participative management is an effective decision making tool. It is often the managers who implement it the wrong way.
Participative management calls for a change and this change can not come overnight. You require patience and consistency before employees realize the usefulness of the management style. There are other problems that often arise with the managers. The problems may arise because of the following: 1. Managers often view it as the ends and not as a tool. 2. There is confusion if whether participative management means democratization. 3. Managers sometimes manipulate the process for their own advantage. Participative Management may fail because of the following reasons:
Resistance to Change: Participative Management calls for a change in the entire organizational culture. Older employees specially resist change and do not welcome it. They take it as a device to curtail their powers. Training is also not welcome. Workers tendency to deviate: Managers must be aware of the tendency of the workers to try spending more time formulating strategies than focus on job in hand. This needs to taken care of. Again top level management may not support this style if they find existent inefficiencies.
One stop Solution: Participative management can not always be a one stop solution for every problem. Often the manager needs to delegate or take a decision on his own without consulting or seeking others advice. For example, cases where disciplinary action is needed do not qualify for participative management. Size of the Organization: This style of management can be more difficult to implement in organizations that are big in size. Big size means that there are large numbers of management layers. This often makes registering opinions and suggestions difficult. More difficult can be the implementation of the same.
Abuse of Authority: Managers sometimes look upon their own jobs as a license instead as a responsibility. They are unwilling to give away some authority to their subordinate which slows down and chokes the process of decision making. Often such managers complain of being overburdened with responsibilities. This fails the idea of participative management. Misunderstanding Participation: This is yet another reason for failure of participative management. Managers sometimes fail to understand that participative management is not the same as delegating or distributing responsibility.
They fail to realize that participative style also involves considering the suggestions and recommendations of employees with respect and dignity. Participation is isolation can be of no use to the organization. It is a mere wastage of time and resources then. Most of the organizations view it an end per se and not a mere tool. Once this happens then participation can be used as an effective tool to problem solving. Concerns for Managers Participative management is not a magic cure for all that ails an organization. Managers should carefully weigh the pros and the cons before implementing this style of management.
Managers must realize that changes will not take effect overnight and will require consistency and patience before employees will begin to see that management is serious about employee involvement. Participative management is probably the most difficult style of management to practice. It is challenging not only for managers but for employees as well. While it is important that management allows employees to participate in decision making and encourages involvement in the organization’s direction, managers must be cognizant of the potential for employees to spend more time formulating suggestions and less time completing their work.
Upper-level management will not support a participative management program if they believe employees are not meeting their daily or weekly goals. Some suggestions for overcoming this potential problem are to set aside a particular time each week for workers to meet with management in order to share their ideas, or to allow them to work on their ideas during less busy times of the day or week. Another idea that works for some managers is to allow employees to set up individual appointments to discuss ideas or suggestions.
Managers should remember that participative management is not always the appropriate way to handle a given situation. Employees often respect a manager that uses his or her authority and makes decisions when it is necessary. There are times when, as a manager, it is important to be in charge, make a decision, and then accept the responsibility for the choices made. For example, participative management is probably not appropriate when disciplinary action is needed. When managers look upon their own jobs as a privilege instead of as a responsibility, they will fail at making participative management work.
They will be less willing to turn over some of the decision-making responsibility to subordinates. Another reason that participative management fails is that managers do not realize it is not the same as delegating or simply shifting responsibility. Participation alone has no value; it is only an effective tool if it is used to solve problems and meet goals. Some managers believe that inviting employees to join in meetings and form committees will create a successful participative management program. However, these measures are only successful when employees’ ideas are accepted by management and implemented.
The larger the organization, the more difficult it becomes to institute a participative management style. Large organizations have more layers and levels, which complicate effective communication and make it difficult to register the opinions and suggestions of a diverse group of employees and managers. Critics argue that unions are often more effective than participative management in responding to employee needs because union efforts can cut through bureaucratic organizations more quickly. Participative management programs can be threatened by office politics.
Due to hidden agendas and peer pressure, employees may keep their opinions to themselves and refuse to tell a manager if they feel an idea will not work. Managers also play a part in politics when they implement participative management programs to impress their own bosses but have no intention of seeing them through. Many companies have experienced the positive effects of participative management. Employees are more committed and experience more job satisfaction when they are allowed to participate in decision making.
Organizations have reported that productivity improved significantly when managers used a participative style. Participative management is not an easy management style to implement. It presents various challenges and does not succeed overnight. Managers will be more successful if they remember that it will take time and careful planning before they will see results. Starting with small projects that encourage and reward participation is one way to get employees to believe that management is sincere and trustworthy. Conclusion
Participative management allows employees to take responsibility, accountability and authority over work done for a company. This leadership strategy typically empowers qualified employees and allows executives to focus on strategic planning while subordinates manage daily operations. Effective leaders establish a clear mission, vision and set of objectives before deferring management to employees. Management communicates the organizational goals, describes what is expected in terms of results and then encourages employees to think creatively to solve problems and figure out how to improve performance.
By establishing performance measurement criteria for learning, leaders can use participative management strategies to their advantage. Participative management has clear goals and does not turn over the organization to employees. There is still a hierarchy but it is not a dominant hierarchy, which dictates everything to employees. A non-dominant hierarchy has as many levels as are necessary to do the work of the organization. People have clear roles and responsibilities and manage themselves as much as possible.
Management tells people what the strategy is and what is expected in terms of results and then allows people to figure out the how to deliver on management expectations. Top management still decides strategy and front line employees still focus on their primary tasks. The difference is that the criteria for superior performance are utilized and leveraged for the success of the organization. The criteria for superior performance are drivers of behavior, reasons why people get up in the morning and are enthusiastic about their work. Pay is considered a satisfier all things being equal.