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Participative management

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Participative management

Participative management is a new approach in the work force today. Job enrichment, quality circles, and self-managing work teams are just some of the approaches. Companies share a common goal of increasing employee involvement. They want to raise the quality, performance, and productivity of their workers.

The questions that follow will be answered in this paper. What is participative management? What are the advantages of participative management? How does it raise quality, productivity, and performance? How can it be successfully started, implemented, and sustained? What are the results of experiments done in the work force?

Participative management is a process by which a company attempts to increase the potential of its employees by involving them in decisions affecting their work lives. A distinguishing characteristic of the process is that its goals are not simply acquired, they focus on the improvement of productivity and efficiency, but they are also fulfilling and self-enhancing in themselves. The key goals of employee involvement programs is to enhance the quality of the employees? working life, management must be responsive to the requests of the employees. The best way to ascertain those requests is to ask employees.

If workers can be motivated and given the opportunity to participate in the search for improved methods of job performance, and if this motivation and participation can be maintained over time, job performance should improve.

Productivity is higher in companies with an organized program of worker participation. Employee participation can and does raise productivity. The most appropriate form will vary from company to company but participation works only when both parties want it to work. The solution to America's pathetic productivity growth isn't necessarily more capital spending (Lewis & Renn, 1992). People tend to accomplish what they decide they want to accomplish. Ideas, changes, suggestions and recommendations that are generated by the people who implement them stand a much greater chance of being successfully implemented. In theory, people who have a hand in making a decision are better motivated to execute it. Participation can improve the quality of decision making.

Participative management appears to offer tremendous advantages. It can create organizations where people at all levels think for themselves and manage their own work, then far fewer employees will be needed and those who remain will have more rewarding and satisfying jobs. This in turn could help make the higher labor costs in the United States competitive because lower-level employees would be contributing more by using both their hands and their minds. It could lead to higher-quality products that are internationally competitive. If our companies were able to effectively utilize participative management, the advantages could be tremendous. We could be a more productive society in which work contributes to the quality of people's lives. We could again be competitive in international markets, be admired for our management skills, and be a society whose workplaces are a source of pride and power. We might also come much closer to matching the reality of how people are treated: with respect; dignity; democratic rights; individual rights; and the right to share in the fruits of their labor (Lawler, 1990). These values have made our society for over two centuries but they have not provided much power for our work environment.

There are ten steps stated by Jerre Lewis and Leslie Renn to implementing a successful participative management program.

Step one: Support of top management and union leadership.

Top management must sanction and be supportive of any participative management and employee involvement program. It is very important that once top management has made the decision in favor of participative management, all supervisory personnel be properly trained on how to change their management style from the old traditional hard line approach to the participatory style. Union leadership must also be prepared for embarking on a participative management program. Many union leaders have feared that participative management and employee involvement programs would undermine the role of the local union and the collective bargaining agreements. Without the support of the union leadership, the program will fail.

Step two: Employees must be ready to accept a participative management program.

In order for employees to be receptive to such a program, a culture change must occur. Implementing a participative management program in an adversarial work climate will not work and be successful. Employees must be willing to change and desire to start working together as a team. This culture change does not happen overnight. Everyone in the organization must have the same equal opportunity to become involved in decision making relative to his or her own job.

Step three: Establish trust amongst all employees. Trust is the glue that binds employees together in an organization.

An employee involvement program will not be successful without trust. Management must initiate trust among its employees. In order for trust to occur, honesty and integrity must prevail. Management should not make any promises to its employees that it can not deliver on and back up. Trust is an extremely important element in any participative management program and must be established as such or the program will not be a success.

Step four: Any participative management program should be initiated on a voluntary basis.

Employees should not be forced to participate in decision making against their own will. Once an employee decides not to become involved in such a program, he or she should not be singled out as refusing to be a team player and viewed in a negative manner. It is very important that the attitudes of these employees continue to be respected.

Step five: A participative management program should not be implemented across the entire organization all at once.

It should start in small departmental groups where there is a consensus that the employees are willing to get together to discuss mutual problems and come up with some solutions. It is very important that once ideas come forward from the groups, management should be ready to follow up and implement these ideas whenever possible. It is advisable to start with the easier problems first and then go to the more difficult problems later.

Step six: Management should not initiate a participative management program to try to save an organization from destruction as a last chance effort.

An employee involvement program should not be used as an alternative when other more serious changes need to be made first in the organization. These programs have been used in organizations for the above reasons and have failed because of their intent and because they were implemented too late.

Step seven: Participative management programs must be results oriented.

If management is going to ask employees for their input and suggestions relative to their job, it is very important that they follow up and provide the necessary resources to make the program work. Goals and objectives must be set and employees must know what is expected of them. There must be adequate control measures in place at all times. It is also important that the program be continually evaluated for its effectiveness.

Step eight: Employees must be given the proper training in problem solving, planning, financial analysis, and communication techniques in order to participate effectively in an employee involvement program.

Management must be willing to open the books of the organization to employees and communicate financial information to them to assist them on their projects.

Step nine: Any participative management program involves risk taking on the part of management.

Employee involvement means management must share decision making but not responsibility. Managers must manage the business and deep control ...

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