Why Democratizing Your Company Rocks

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Scenario: "I'm the boss at my big company. Everything runs through me. I run this place with an iron fist: I hire and fire all employees, and I make them do what whatever I want. People say micro-managing doesn't work, but it certainly does for my company. My employees are scared $hitless."

What if micro-managers ran the United States, or any other first-world country?

That is, if everything went through the president/prime-minister or his assistants? And:

  • If the executive panel dictated whether you could buy a house, a car, a boat, or Keven Federline's new CD?
  • If those bastards told you where you could travel during your summer months?
  • If they dictated specifically what business you can and cannot start?
  • If they told you where you can live, who you can date, what music you can have in your iPod?
  • And: If you wanted to rock the world now, but you couldn't because you're not old enough -- and those executive bastards only promoted those who they knew?

Most First-World Companies Suck...

Most business executives, in capitalistic markets and democratic nations, run their companies like dictatorships. Instead of empowering their workers, they're dictating what employees can and cannot do -- all with an iron fist. It's a reason why most executives underdevelop their companies. Instead of running a dictatorship, do what most business executives fear: democratize your company. Empower your workers. They'll surprise you with what they can do.

Why Democratizing Your Company Rocks

When you focus on democratizing:

  1. You open communication.

    Imagine living in a country where you'll see prison time if you disagree with Mr./Ms. President. That's akin to how most companies run their stuff: as soon as employees criticize their companies, they're fired. What does that tell the rest of your employees? "Shut up. Do your work. I don't care what you think." It's a great de-motivator for your employees when your company doesn't seek win/win situations. Instead, when your company encourages open conflicts, you open discussion. Like business guru Jim Collins says, you can't make good decisions without understanding the brutal facts of your company.
  2. You optimize people's talents.

    Magazines praise entrepreneurs for doing what they love, and where they excel. In turn, entrepreneurs who seek and discover where they employees excel, and what they love doing, become the greatest managers. Inherently, we all have a Michael Jordan inside each and every one of us. And, if given the right conditions, we'll work our butts off for you whether you're watching us or not. The key then is to create an environment where your company can capitalize on that sumptuous talent. Instead of restricting what your employees can do, free your company's social structure. If 19-year old Billy Bob majored in Classics, but loves and can excel in marketing, let him shine. Oh, let him shine! An open environment gets everybody aligned to use their best talents for your badass company.
  3. You discover the best and brightest.

    A culture where merit trumps over seniority rocks. You build an environment that breeds results-oriented people, and kicks out those who don't produce. You keep people on their toes producing like a mutha flucka, and reminding 'em: "Seniority doesn't matter. Results do." It's like you're running any professional sports team that gets the best talent on the front lines: "You're 18-years old. But if you're better than the 38-year old dude, you'll play."

What The Badass Prof Says...

When you model your company's structure after a democratic structure, USC's Leadership Guru Warren Bennis, says you incorporate:

  1. Full and free communication, regardless of rank and power.
  2. A reliance on consensus rather than on coercion or compromise to manage conflict.
  3. The idea that influence is based on technical competence and knowledge rather than on the vagaries of personal whims or prerogatives of power.
  4. An atmosphere that permits and even encourages emotional expression as well as task-oriented behavior.
  5. A basically human bias, one that accepts the inevitability of conflict between the organization and the individual but is willing to cope with and mediate this conflict on rational grounds.

"So how do I democratize my company?"

Take the "free world" structure as your model:

  1. You promote merit over seniority, connections, and what someone did ten years ago.

    If a college student is more capable than some veteran marketing manager, your business's structure will promote that college student over the veteran dude. Most companies promote people based on seniority, which is a crap business method. Seniority doesn't improve your organization. People who produce results do, and should be promoted.
  2. You promote open communication: discussion, conflict, and disagreements.

    Some 16-year old hot shot employee should be able to freely air criticisms of the CEO's decisions, without fear of being fired. Here's a start to ask your employees: "Name 5 reasons why we suck." (And if you'd rather be less direct, go with the: "Name 5 reasons we can improve.")
  3. You empower each and every employee.

    Like entrepreneurs around the world, employees are craving to have an impact in your organization. If you empower them to do what's in the best interest of your company, you'll get some pretty amazing, cool, and sweet results. It's a reason why Google promotes 20% time for all their employees, which result in 50% of their innovations. Empowerment rocks. It's also a reason why Wall Street gems such as 3M and Wells Fargo, among the several others, do it too.

The thesis:

Get badass results by democratizing the mutha flucka out of your company.

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Posted on August 23

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