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What is participatory management and how can it help your business develop?

Learn about the benefits of this practice and how to apply it to your business!


11/25/2019 | By

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Are you familiar with the concept of participatory management? It’s a trend in terms of management, which eliminates hierarchies and values employee exchange of experiences. It has been gaining space and relevance in companies that are more productive. And rightly so.

A change from a rigid and conventional model — in which communication is one-sided from the top down, as in a cascade of orders — to a more flexible method, which sees individuals and important agents for the development of an organization, can be the key for a form of management that, in addition to being more participatory, is also leaner, smarter and more profitable. Everything that modern leaders want and need!

In this article, we will provide practical examples so you can better understand the concept of participatory management and its workings. 

In addition, you’ll learn about the main benefits of this practice and have access to tip to implement this model in your business as soon as possible.

We promise you one thing: it’s worth exploring this scenario of possibilities and finding new ways to boost your corporate results. Good reading and good insights!

What is participatory management anyway?

The term itself gives you a good idea of this model’s essential purpose, which is to allow and value people’s participation in the organization’s administrative, strategic and even decision-making processes. It sounds promising, doesn’t it?

And in fact, it usually is! In practice, participatory management can be described as a style of leadership based on strong attributes, such as trust, freedom and collaboration. 

The entire team feels it is part of a project, works aligned with the mission of pushing it forward and of course, comfortable enough to share ideas, study eventual hurdles and promote innovative solutions.

The modality, which suggests the softening of the hierarchical levels and making job positions lose strength as badges of power, is perfect to motivate the exchange of information and experiences. 

Think about it: in a heterogeneous team, ignoring the experience each employee brings to the table would be a complete waste! One of them, even in an entry-level position, might have the knowledge a company needs to solve an issue that is preventing the operation’s growth.

It was precisely this insight that made the preference for a participatory management model to grow, which includes and binds instead of segmenting and dominating.

When leaders are open to quality interactions and trust their teams’ potential, the result is better than simply the sum of two complementary ideas. In fact, honing valuable insights can yield robust short-term returns.

How does participatory management work?

Decentralizing leadership and encouraging collaboration among team members is, without a doubt, the right attitude. After all, the sum of experiences and healthy debate of knowledge is a great catalyst for more cohesive and productive decisions. Everything that a business needs to grow!

But first, a theoretical observation: in order for you to implement participatory management processes, emphasizing the four dimensions that make up the model and that make it feasible in a company’s daily life is valid. 

By making changes to your business, you should pay attention to the following dimensions:

  • Structural, which suggests the need to review position and hierarchy standards, emboldening team members and in a way, standardize interaction, opinion and decision-making freedom.
  • Results, which highlight the importance of organizing and analyzing reliable information, capable of motivating a productive discussion among team members and of course, support sound decisions;
  • Behavioral, which indicates the leadership attitudes to be prioritized during (and even after) the transition effort, validating the participatory experience and introducing new behaviors to team members.

And second, for a more practical application, employees should include in a common purpose: of making internal processes and business decisions collective and transparent.

Once implemented and nurtured, participatory management extrapolates the organization and reaches the market, also influencing relationships with suppliers and customers in a positive manner, for example. The change is enormous, profound and it truly worthwhile!

What are the benefits of participatory management?

Now that you’ve learned a bit more about the subject (and are probably already considering a few changes in your company), we should point out the main benefits of this practice. 

We bet that you might be surprised with he transformation!

1. Commitment and alignment

An aligned team is better engaged. An engaged team is more committed to results and therefore, has more efficient and productive deliveries. This is exactly what you’re looking for, right?

With participatory management, you empower your employees and confer independence to trusted employees. In practice, the message is quite stimulating: anyone is apt to contribute so that collective results are increasingly expressive.

2. Cost reduction and resource optimization

Power has more to do with responsibility than with hierarchy. In participatory management, when a leader decentralizes authority, everyone tends to feel responsible for making better decisions — and this is great for businesses.

When your team is aware of the resources and they work to optimize them, producing more with less, costs are cut and performance is increased, which is the perfect combination for success!

3. Assertiveness and innovation

Two heads think better than one; this old saying is still valid in most cases. This is because the healthy exchange of experiences is valuable for important decisions.

Just consider this, instead of two heads, how about having dozens of heads aligned with a collective purpose of developing the company. Participatory management promotes and encourages this type of interaction, favoring innovation while increasing the effectiveness of corporate decisions.

4 tips for implementing participatory management

With so much information, it’s impossible not to consider structural changes in the perception of hierarchy, isn’t it? All you need now is to truly roll up your sleeves and try it!

1. Talk openly about management and hierarchies

First and foremost, it’s important to know how your team will receive – and react to, different management modalities. Take the opportunity to look into the team’s profile and check if the participatory model is a good fit for your company as a whole.

2. Propose new experiences with your team

It’s essential that you involve all employees in the initiative, once you’ve decided to start using the participatory process. Provide new possibilities and encourage quality interactions, stimulating employee exchanges and productive connections.

3. Monitor the development of the process (individually and collectively)

In order to validate the receptivity of the new managerial terms and of course, to analyze each one’s receptivity to each new idea proposed, it is essential that you monitor the entire process closely.

Understand the biggest motivations and the main sources of resistance. This type of awareness will help you hone the model and garner results that are even more positive.

4. Share and celebrate good results

With each achievement, there should also be a small but meaningful celebration. Truly involve the team and never fail to congratulate productive initiatives. In the same fashion, admit the learning curve that comes from any mistakes made.

Participatory management requires dialogue and suggests the constant development both of the team and the company. The focus in on collaboration and trust is the key!

Shall we get started?

Participatory management is a new view of leadership. In place of the rigidity of hierarchies, the model is based on employee collaboration and the sum of experiences. Alignment is stronger and as a result, performance is more consistent. What are you waiting for to try it?

At this point, we think that you’re excited about the possibilities and perspectives of this form of management, right? Great. That is surely the first step towards transformation.

Now that you’re familiar with the main participatory management points, take the opportunity to continue developing as a leader and make sure you check out the 9 bedside books on management.