Democracy at Workplace

We had our usual chaotic meeting at work over variety of incidence. My partner burst out in flames, literally over some issues which he had previously warned repeatedly. He stressed that “This is not a democratic place. You will do as I said. I am not asking you for your personal views and opinion. I don’t even care what they are. Even you don’t approve of my decisions, you will carry them out nonetheless.”

It seriously crosses out almost everything I learned at school. Creative thinking. The actualisation of the goals of individuals within organisations. The more power the people have, the better.

Reality couldn’t be more different. To run a business in a society where skilled workers are scarce, we are forced to take in unskilled ones. When the business grow bigger, we need to hire more. The more staff we have, the harder it is to manage them. Because everybody seems to think that they know more and they have their own agenda which most of the time, are not aligned with the company’s. It takes a lot of time and resources to educate and to steer them to the path that we want.

This is when dictatorship is at its best. We force them to think as we do. We feed them our ideals and business strategies. We set up the rules and punish those who stray. We control their every move. We measure everything. We have spies in our own organisation. We banish the rebels who can be poisonous. Literally, we squash individuality, creativity and uniqueness in favour of peace, harmony, common goal and vision.

It does not make any sense at first. But it works. Slowly, one by one, they start to think the way we do. Maybe one day, we can actually become a democratic company. Selective democracy, of course. Total democracy in the wrong hands can only spell C H A O S.

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6 Responses to “Democracy at Workplace”


  1. 1 L B January 18, 2008 at 5:47 pm

    I suppose the most successful businesses in the world are not run by democracy, but by the visions of a few, or even the one.. It’s true!

  2. 2 Michael January 18, 2008 at 7:56 pm

    We tend to forget that when we work for someone, they get to decide. We are only there to do what is required of us. The workplace would be much better if we remember as you write, the work place is not a democracy, and was never intended to be one.

  3. 3 Pelopor January 19, 2008 at 8:01 am

    I guess most people working for other people will have the same experience at work. On a regular basis. I haven’t had a boss who seemed to be open to and appreciate all his subordinates ideas and contributions.
    What sometimes get’s a little hard to distinguish are the company’s goals, you’re professional goals and your private goals. See them as three clearly different things, makes these kind of meetings a little easier to endure. At least for me.

  4. 4 adit January 19, 2008 at 5:21 pm

    A company is not a democratic organization. It never then and it never will be. A company simply can’t survive when every staff has an equal share of power.

    The notion of selective democracy, to me, is more toward empowerment.

    I agree with your posting about forcing them to think as we do, eliminating rebels, and punish those who stray. However, I’m not sure dictatorship is a right word (sounds a bit scary hehehe). Nevertheless, when running an organization it will eventually come to one end, leadership.

    As a leader, at some point we need to assert power. Power is a good thing. It brings control and order, especially when it comes to organization’s vision and goals. Even at the flattest organization, power is still needed to keep the organization afloat.

    I may be cautious about employing spy techniques though, as it creates distrust among employees. This may develop into a serious issue in the future.

    If I may suggest, you might want to re-evaluate the existing communication flow in the company and do a little bit of internal PRing. 🙂

  5. 5 Anita January 19, 2008 at 8:16 pm

    Everyone does have their own agenda, but it has to align with company’s vision and mission. Having different opinion is normal, and usually it generates or stimulate better ideas. But usually the final decision will be made by the boss(es), not subordinates. I’ve worked as a consultant before and I found out that even choosing the wallpaper or carpet color or the type of working chairs for the office cannot be done by the GA (general affairs) department, it has to be approved by 1) CEO and 2) the company design standard, if they have one (which means sometimes it has to be approved by regional office too).


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