Participative management: principles, advantages and implementation

November 6, 2023
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In the last few years, our way of working has evolved a lot with the perpetuation of hybrid work, flex office, remote... including participative management.

The principle? Every employee, whatever his or her skills, is invited to participate in the company's decision-making process using collective intelligence.

What is the definition of participative management? What are its advantages? How to implement it? All the answers and best practices in this article!

The definition of the participative management style

Participative management can be defined as a management approach in which decisions and responsibilities are shared between managers and team members. Instead of a traditional hierarchical structure where decisions are made centrally by managers, participative management style favors the inclusion of employees in the decision-making process.

Communication and trust are the cornerstones. It's important to note that this type of management does not mean an absence of leadership or responsibility. Managers still play a crucial role in providing a clear vision, setting objectives and facilitating corporate decision-making.

The 6 characteristics of participative management

1. Mobilization and involvement of employees

Without the mobilization of employees, participative management does not happen. Involving them, taking their considerations, opinions and ideas into account in the decision-making process are the best ways for your employees to feel like they belong to a team.

2. Shared decision making

Employees and their managers use collective intelligence to share their ideas, debate, work together, and even make decisions thanks to a number of tools and guides that we will detail in the rest of this article.

3. Employee empowerment

As employees are more involved in the decision-making process, they will have more responsibility and be encouraged to take the initiative. This includes greater freedom to organize their work.

4. Skills development

This type of management demands skills from employees (communication, organization, etc.) that should be reinforced over time. Managers can therefore give their teams the opportunity to take part in training courses to improve their qualities and move forward in their careers.

5. Regulation of work

Setting up individual and collective regulation indicators is important for good participative management. The manager, in collaboration with his or her teams, needs to set these up, along with possible margins of error, and self-checking practices and guides.

These guides provide detailed instructions to employees on assessment methods and best practices for identifying, preventing and proactively managing potential risks.

6. Managing problems and conflicts

85% of employees experience conflict at work and spend an average of one day per month resolving it, according to a study by OPP.

Participative management helps to prevent and limit these conflicts. Indeed, it gives employees the opportunity to have more responsibilities, to communicate regularly with each other and with their manager. But above all, it allows them to listen to each other, thus allowing conflicts to be resolved quickly.

What are the objectives of the participative management style?

Several objectives are possible by switching to participative management, both for the company and for the employees.

As far as the company is concerned, the objective is to improve its performance and innovation thanks to a better involvement of its employees.

This also reduces :

  • Absenteeism rate: it can be reduced by 25% when employees are fulfilled at work (study "The Art of Health Promotion", Chapman Institute, USA)
  • The departure rate: with a more rigid management, there is a risk that 25% of employees will change companies according to McKinsey

It is also a good way to attract new talent by putting participative management at the forefront of your recruitment process.

For employees, with greater autonomy, organizational freedom and commitment, the aim will be to become a real player in their professional lives. This will bring new meaning to their work.

The challenges of participative management

The advantages

In view of the different characteristics that have just been mentioned, participative management shows many advantages that can lead companies to implement it.

This management will allow the employee tobe more involved in the work he/she is doing, promoting productivity and creativity thanks to collective intelligence. In the end, the work atmosphere and the relationships between employees will be better.

It can also be noted that preventing and limiting conflicts makes it possible to work more serenely thanks to the empowerment of employees and better communication.

With this management style, the company will see an increase in performance that will be reflected in the financial results. But before this can be achieved, a number of issues need to be aligned, such as working conditions and employee retention, which includes reducing absenteeism and attrition rates. This will improve the work-life balance and the well-being of everyone, leading to better individual and collective productivity.

Disadvantages and limitations

However, we must be careful to ensure that participative management is properly implemented, which can take time, with the creation of procedures and numerous discussions...

For this, the training of managers is important because if it is not done correctly, the opposite effect could occur: an increase in conflicts. Indeed, this management style is not for everyone. Conflicts between employees of different generations can occur, impacting working relationships and decision making.

Participative and collaborative management styles: what are the differences?

The differences between participative management and collaborative management are small and they are similar in some aspects:

  • They also rely on collaboration, cooperation and teamwork.
  • They also promote the active participation and commitment of all team members, encouraging collective decision-making and contribution.

However, the fundamental difference between the two lies in management. Participative management is more flexible because decisions are made by both managers and employees. As for collaborative management, it is the manager who makes the decision, which may be contrary to the opinion of his teams.

We can thus define these two management styles by a managerial statement:

  • Participative management: "I decide to set a framework where we can decide together."
  • Collaborative management: "I propose ideas, listen to your feedback and then make a decision taking your opinions into account."

Tools and resources to implement participative management

Implementing participative management can take time and a number of tools exist to help you. These are simple but very effective methods where each employee can give his opinion to the others and to his manager. For example:

  • The survey, anonymous or not, which allows to collect ideas, opinions of employees.
  • The brainstorming which has an objective to innovate and solve problems.
  • Project management tools like Slack, Trello or Asana. Many companies are equipped with them and they are a good way to plan, exchange in real time between collaborators in hybrid mode.

Being able to manage one's own office is also important for this type of management, which can encourage employees to come to their workplace more regularly, given the benefits of the practice.

➡️ With Deskare, you can see whether your teams are in the office or at remote work, and then anticipate moments of collaboration and decision-making, whether face-to-face or remotely!

Now you know everything about participative management, from its definition to the possible tools to implement it. All that remains is to adopt it in your company!

For a more in-depth look at the subject, discover how good management can improve job satisfaction.