Empowering the workforce involves giving employees a degree of control over the organization’s operation. When empowered, employees feel they are an active part of the organization’s decision-making process and they have an organizational sense of "family." Once empowered, employees begin to take pride and ownership in their work, which may lead to improvement in their job performance, which then may increases overall organizational quality. As employees become more involved in the organization, they become self-motivated and do not require as much direct praise or monitoring from managers. As a part of the empowerment process, employees are permitted more management participation.
Participative management advocates using the cumulative skills and expertise of employees to solve problems and improve service quality. It calls for all members of an organization to share authority, responsibility, accountability, and decision making. Although it emphasizes group effort, a leader is needed who is responsible for keeping the group on track and making final decisions on group suggestions.
Delegation of responsibility and authority is required for participative management to be successful. Delegation is entrusting the responsibility and authority to complete a task to another person. Along with this trust comes accountability, which is holding the other person accountable for acceptable completion of the task. Many managers manage by the philosophy "If you want it done right, you have to do it yourself," so they find delegation difficult. Other managers do not mind delegating responsibility, but they are reluctant to delegate authority.
Participative management may meet resistance from all organizational levels. Managers may resist it since they may fear losing control or worry they will no longer be needed. Organizational traditions may hamper its use since it is so different from the way things have been done for so long. Unions may reject the team concept of participative management because they fear that allowing workers to mix with management may reduce union control of workers. Workers may reject assumption of any responsibility for quality, maintaining that quality is the responsibility of management. Organizational reward systems may be detrimental to participative management since they tend to recognize quantity, not quality. They usually reward individual production, not group participation.
Participative management involves giving employees membership on committees that make recommendations on changes to organizational polices. Since TQM requires the formation and use of numerous committees, it has been called management-by-committee.