Employee Participation Techniques

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Professional managers and small business owners often find themselves tasked with employee participation. If employees work together in teams and on special projects, they can help the company achieve more ambitious goals. The alternative, letting each employee stick to his own job, means that the organization fails to source the creative potential of people sharing ideas.

Empower Employees

Getting employees to participate in initiatives assigned by a manager or initiated by coworkers relates closely to the concept of employee empowerment. A manager or business owner who empowers employees devolves some of the power held at the top of the organization to the middle and lower levels of the organizational chart. Managers share some responsibilities with their line workers. Employee empowerment, or shared accountability, entices some employees to participate primarily because they enjoy more control over their work.

Rotate Leadership

Employees like to have more control over their work. If you set up your staff to work as a team, you will have to deal with ongoing challenges to group involvement, including getting members to contribute their fair share. Increase participation by rotating the position of team or project leader. You can assign the head role on a rotating basis (following a schedule), or give employees more control by having them choose the team leader who is best prepared to lead a specific project.

Direct Policy

Employee participation also occurs at different levels of the organization. In the foregoing discussion, employees had influence over their own work by increased participation at their level. An organization can also give employees direct access to higher decision-making activities by including line workers in senior committees and task forces. When a line worker works with senior managers, she can directly participate in setting the policy direction of the organization. An employee's self-interest in participation at this high level works to the advantage of the company. One reason is because managers get the benefit of this employee's perspective from lower in the food chain.

Get Indirect Participation

A fourth approach gives employees indirect pariticipation in decision-making. In the same way that a trade union uses union leaders to discuss issues with a firm's managers, employees select their representatives inside their departments or class of workers and send them to the organizational decision-making body. Reps give input on decisions that will affect all workers or segments of workers. This system can work according to many models of indirect participation. Success depends on the degree to which a representative represents a variety of concerns on behalf of workers, not just advocating for his own position on each issue.