The following is a transcript of the video above, from our webinar on “How to Design Democratic Management.” View the full webinar here.
Yarissa Soriano: At the Democracy at Work Institute (DAWI), we believe that democratic managers need to know and do all the things that any conventional business manager needs to do to ensure that the business is doing well, that the business is successful, and that it moves people and resources towards their goals. What sets a democratic manager apart and the core principles that really makes them different than your traditional management is commitment. Commitment to sharing information transparently, sharing power regularly, and teaching others to do what they need to do in order to really participate fully in the operations and the governance of the business. Democratic managers are developing workers’ capacity through what I like to call “human-centered supervision,” looking at our workers as a whole.
When Peggy Powell and Rick Surpin founded Cooperative Home Care Associates in 1985, they were always intentional about empowering the workers. When managers share power and teach others—I think that’s so key—when they share power, teach others, and invite them to participate in operations and governance, it trickles down to the work, and how they do their jobs. For example, at CHCA, the direct care workers, they were confident in their skill set. They knew that the information and experiences that they had were valuable and important, and they were comfortable voicing that—and that is unique. For those of you who are not in the healthcare industry, direct care workers oftentimes are not seen in most agencies, and they’re not heard. If you are a caregiver, you know that being a direct care worker is hard work, physically and emotionally. They’re going into a stranger’s home, oftentimes bathing, cleaning, and feeding the clients and managing the complexities of family dynamics, mental health, among many other things. They are essential workers, and yet, unfortunately, not seen. Even during the pandemic, we rarely heard about them. Giving them a voice and opportunities to share their knowledge, having managers equipped to build on what they already have, and to improve not only their jobs but the quality of the care that they provide, is critical. That’s one of the key reasons why a business like CHCA has been able to sustain a democratic workplace for the past 37 years.