Worker self-management is a form of workplace decision-making in which the workers themselves agree on choices (for issues like customer care, general production methods, scheduling, division of labour etc.) instead of an owner or traditional supervisor telling workers what to do, how to do it and where to do it.
Workers' self-management is often the decision-making model used in co-operative economic arrangements such as worker cooperatives, work teams, participatory economics, and similar arrangements where the workplace operates without a boss. Decision making is not decided by consulting all employees for every tiny issue in a time-consuming, inefficient and ineffective manner. Real-world examples show that, only large-scale decisions are made by all employees during council meetings and small decisions are made by those implementing them while coordinating with the rest and following more general agreements.
Examples of Worker Self-Management
Main Article: Work Team
Some cooperatives break down their overall larger structure into “Work Teams” (a form of self-management). These teams' purpose is to divide the business up amongst sections of operation. For instance, a large worker coop grocery store might be divided into some of the following teams: cashiers, meat-packers, and etc. These are somewhat autonomous teams within the cooperative as a whole. They work towards their own goals, make their own decisions, and sometimes even do their own hiring and firing process
Main Article: Shopfloor Committee
A shopfloor committee (sometimes called a “worker committee”) is a form of worker self-management. It is a tool employed by some democratic workplaces in which a group of workers form a working group that is assigned a specific task to undertake or a problem to resolve (although this has also been utilized by non-democratic workplaces). However, worker committees can also be employed in consumer co-ops or even non-cooperative businesses. These committees are usually composed by a small-to-medium sized number of workers and managers (if the business has them).
The key to a shopfloor committee is that workers identify and analyze problems within the workplace, their jobs, and the business as a whole. Together, the working group proposes a solution to the problem, and if approved (by the other workers, another committee, or etc.), they put the proposal into action.
Main Article: Job Rotation
Job Rotation is a method which, after a set period of time, workers will switch from working one job in the business to another. This way, most workers become experienced in almost all of the practices of the co-op. The job rotation technique is used to advance worker education (developing different skills and understanding the various functions of the co-op), to protect against boredom, and to make sure that even unpleasant tasks get done.