In a life and death situation, decision making, although stressful, can be somewhat clear cut: someone – a surgeon in an operating room or a general in a war, for example - is in charge of making the decision and those reporting to them – junior doctors, nurses, officers and foot soldiers – are responsible for following them. In industry, decision making tends to be less black and white. Often, as a group member, your input may be needed by your leaders and you likely have the appropriate expectation that your input should be considered.
As a manager in industry, depending on the situation, you might want to take advantage of the participation of your group members and you may choose to select from 5 decision making approaches:
- You need to make the decision yourself (for example, a confidential decision on organizational restructuring)
- You want or need the input from group members before making the decision
- You see an advantage to collaborating with the group on a consensus decision. Note: This one can be tricky and it is always best to describe a back-up approach in case consensus cannot be reached. For example, you might decide to seek a level three decision, but that if consensus cannot be reached in an hour it becomes a level two decision.
- You prefer your group members to make the decision with your input or
- You want your group to make the decision without your involvement
The greater freedom available to managers in industry can be powerful in that it provides the manager the opportunity to bring the experience of the group to bear on the decision-making process, allowing them to feel empowered and have more ownership in certain decisions. On the other hand, if the manager is not clear on what type of decision making approach is to be taken, it can lead to confusion, inefficiency and, in some cases, frustration within the group.
It is essential, before any discussion occurs, that the manager is clear with the group on what the level of decision making will be applied to each decision the group is addressing. Imagine the impact on a group if they believe that an issue they are discussing is level four (the group will make the decision with input from the manager) when the manager has decided that it is actually level two (the manager will make the decision after taking input from the group).
CruxMove Consulting taught me this approach to decision making many years ago and, although I am a slow learner and it took me a couple of years to see the value of the approach and the risks of not being clear on who “calls the shots” on any given decision, I have used it consistently with my leadership teams since then. Even now, in the democracy that is Brizzey LLC, we still pay attention to this important set of rules.
This article was posted as a guest blog on CruxMove Consulting's webpage on 28th June 2017 and followed two related articles by CruxMove co-owner, Jim Jenson. Click here to view the first of Jim's posts.