Participative management can best be described as a style of decision making that ensures that involvement of stakeholders at all levels. This operates at three levels, Problem analysis, strategy formulation and final implementation of the solution. There are certain prerequisites to be met before participative management can be put to work.
Participative management first of all requires a willingness from the managers to give up some charge to the workers and they must in turn be in a position such that the successful participation of all is ensured. It cannot be successful in any organization unless is carefully planned, timed and well thought upon.
Since participative management is a style of decision making, therefore its implementation essentially requires a change in the employees idea of the latter. This change also means that there is a cultural change required in the organization vis-à-vis a change from a certain other style of decision making to participative style. It also brings with it a certain amount of resistance from the employees specially so from the older or the long term employees.
The resistance is a reflection of the disbelief of the employees that their participation will not be respected and implemented. The onus here lies on the managers in putting in sincere efforts to convince them of the usefulness of their role in the decision making. The employees need proof that their ideas will be considered, discussed seriously and implemented finally if found beneficial to the organization. This is precisely why participative management needs to be implemented in phases; this way the employees are able to see proof that their ideas and suggestions hold weight. It also encourages them to come forth in future and also keeps them continuously engaged in thinking about the welfare of their organization.
One more prerequisite for successful participative management is attitude of the top and middle management or those who seek employee interventions in decision making. They must approach employee involvement with a receptive and open mindset. This encourages participation. They must be open to new ideas and innovations. This may sound problematic in large organizations but how the suggestion is being received decides to a large extent whether or not the style of decision making can be successful.
Since decision making is based on inputs of one and all, therefore its success also depends on the degree of participation of employees. In certain organizations despite obvious proofs, the employees decide not to participate or make contribution. In yet another organizations the employees are not skilled enough to make meaningful contributions to the final decision making process. This can be overcome by imparting the right kind of training and by the manager himself by ascertaining the individual strengths of his team members and asking for relevant contributions based upon the same.
In large organizations in order to ascertain the relevance of suggestions, managers also need to set certain benchmarks for making inputs to various groups so that discussions are held at levels that are consequential and the solutions are feasible economically.
Proof of implementations serves as the biggest marketing vehicle that encourages the employees to become more forthcoming. This also communicates to them that they are important and also motivates them more. Ideas that cannot be implemented need to be explained to the employees. This is important in order to avoid mistrust and promote participation.
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