Article by Jim Jensen
This rather powerful statement comes from the Harvard Business School article, Why Managers Should Involve Their Team in the Decision-Making Process.
"In a survey by management consulting firm McKinsey, only 28 percent of executives touted the quality of their company’s strategic decisions, while 60 percent reported that bad decisions are about as frequent as good ones."
My work, being primarily with leadership teams, has given me many opportunities to explore the complexities of decision making. In my experience, what complicates things the most is not that a team’s decision-making process is complex, but very often they simply do not have one, or their process is informal and often unconscious. In other words, it is littered with opportunities for miscommunication and unchecked assumptions.
It may sound a little odd, but in my experience leadership teams often make decisions with little collective awareness that they just made one. Or, consensus may be assumed by some, while others did not have time to contemplate it, let alone buy in. For example, during a discussion, someone will say, “So, should we do that?” Someone else will say “Yeah, I think so.” And a decision is made…kind of… with little or no discussion about who will be impacted or who is on board. Then later, either that someone or that someone else will mention the decision that was made, and other teammates will say they don’t remember that happening, despite having been at the same meeting. This can easily happen when a team has no structured decision-making process, or when their decision making is more unconscious, meaning not everyone is clear on the decision, or they are unaware of all the ramifications.
So, the first step is to make your decision-making process more conscious.
Our Team Self-Assessment consists of 42 items and is designed partly to increase awareness of important teaming behaviors. We ask leaders and their teams to rate each item, 1 through 5 (1 being almost never, and 5 being almost always). The following five items are specific to decision making:
In terms of team and decision-making effectiveness imagine the impact when a team can honestly rate these items a five. Conversely imagine the impact when a team gives these items low ratings. How would you rate them? How would your team rate them?
If you think strengthening your team’s decision-making process is a worthy goal, consider discussing it with them. You might say something like, “I’ve been thinking about our ability as a team to make good decisions, and I think we can get better at it. I’d like to invite all of you to help me help us to get better.” Then share your thoughts and open it up for discussion.
Dynamic Teams helps clients explore structured decision-making processes. Using a structured process ensures that important questions get raised, but you don’t have to use a formal process to make your decision-making more conscious and effective. One strategy for a team leader to employ is to end meetings with one or more of these questions.
“Before we end, have we made any decisions?”
If yes, “Let's confirm. What were they?”
If appropriate, “Is everyone on board?”
“Who needs to be informed?”
“How will this be communicated?”
In a healthy team culture these questions can generate some good, productive, healthy conflict and debate that leads to clarity and buy-in. So, make sure you ask these questions with more than just a minute remaining.
If effective decision-making behaviors are lacking in your leadership team, your team meetings are a place you can practice them. The more people experience behaviors that lead to better decisions, and the more they practice them, the more likely these behaviors will become valued and part of everyone’s consciousness… part of your culture. Formal or structured decision-making processes resonate with some leaders and teams, and not with others. Regardless of how structured or unstructured yours is, making it a more conscious process will make you more effective.
I hope you found this helpful.
Click this link to read the Harvard Business School article referenced above: Why Managers Should Involve Their Team in the Decision-Making Process
Primarily serving Kalamazoo, Grand Rapids, Lansing, Ann Arbor and Detroit, Michigan, we’ve worked with companies worldwide as leadership team development, and corporate team building facilitators.
Jim Jensen, MA LPC is the Principal and Founder of Dynamic Teams LLC, specializing in helping leaders of companies build healthy culture through dynamic leadership teams.