Page 4: Democratic style
In contrast to the autocratic style, Enterprise uses democratic decision-taking in many parts of the business. Everyone has the opportunity to contribute ideas to the decision. There are two types of democratic decision-making:
- persuasive democratic management - here the leader makes the decision first and then persuades employees that he or she has made the right decision
- consultative democratic management - this involves the group contributing to the decision-making process, with the leader making the final decision
The team is central to delivering good customer service. The consultative approach helps Enterprise achieve this business objective.
Enterprise operates through an extensive network of local offices. Branch managers and their staff need to make decisions to meet the changing needs of customers in a fiercely competitive market. Each office operates with a large degree of autonomy. This means that, in many areas of operation, local offices have the power to govern themselves and make changes without referring to senior management. They use different management styles with customers on different occasions.
Examples of incidents they may have to deal with include:
- a car has been in an accident and a customer needs a hire car urgently. Local managers take a consultative approach to understand the issues and find the right solution for customers who might be upset or worried.
- a customer wants a vehicle for a weekend break. Branch staff will be more authoritative in recommending a specific vehicle to suit their needs. This helps to satisfy this customer and ensure repeat business.
Ownership and motivation
This independent approach enables Enterprise employees to have ownership of many of their activities. This acts as a motivator for staff.
In 1943, Abraham Maslow, looking at motivation, identified a hierarchy of needs for individual employees. Everyone has needs for water, food, warmth and safety. These have to be met before a person can move on to fulfilling their higher needs.
When employees are empowered to make decisions, this improves their sense of worth and self-esteem. It also helps them to use creative skills within their role and motivates them to perform better.
Making decisions at a local level helps to meet customers' needs and enables individuals to take a pride in their job. This recognises that employees are motivated by factors other than financial ones. These include praise, recognition or having more responsibility. Enterprise's emphasis is on satisfying customers to grow the business. It also rewards hard work.
To increase motivation, employees who achieve high levels of customer satisfaction have the opportunity of promotion. In addition, staff who perform well or who make the biggest improvement are recognised through the Enterprise newsletter or by membership of the Enterprise 'Elite Club'. This reinforces self-esteem.