Participatory Management: Benefits for Everybody

Mark Smith, GEMGiving a voice to all employees by including them in the decision process is a simple yet powerful tool to increase motivation and performance. Yet the majority of employees to not benefit from such an inclusive management style. On a fundamental level, participatory management is a matter of approach and it's up to direct managers to change our habits.


Less than 20% of vulnerable workers, women and those with low education, benefit from a participatory management style. "This type of management allows employees to express their point of view on management decisions, to participate in the improvement of the organization and to be present during meetings organized to hear their opinions. In short, it's about listening to and involving your employees." explains Mark Smith, a professor at Grenoble Ecole de Management and the co-author of an article on this theme which appeared in the 5th GEM LAB Executive Summaries. In comparison, 31% of non-vulnerable workers benefit from such inclusive management practices. "This style is particularly developed in Scandinavian countries and much less so in France and southern European countries."

Encouraging employees and company performance

Participatory management is a win-win solution. For employees, the opportunity to voice their opinions highlights the care their manager has for them and increases their motivation. As a result they suffer less stress, fewer accidents, less absenteeism, etc. "Participatory management improves the work environment." comments Mark Smith. For employers, the gains are significant as well. In addition to the obvious benefit of having motivated employees, hearing from employees allows a company to gather more information. "It is often the less qualified employees who are in contact with the client. Their feedback, for example, can offer concrete ideas for improving client relationships."

The importance of the direct manager

Implementing a participatory management style does not require extravagant means. At its heart, participatory management is a mindset. "Direct managers have the most important role to play. Their impact on human resource questions, such as vacation time, is crucial." concludes Mark Smith. The direct manager holds the key to encouraging dialogue and employee participation.