Nothing speaks louder about particular Manager’s style than the way he conducts the decision making process. Some prefer to let others make decisions for them (thus trying to escape responsibility), while others demonstrate a completely opposite behavior by making all the decisions on their own.
But in all cases, Manager’s role in this process is crucial. Ideally, Manager will play the role his team needs him to play for maximal benefit; it could be facilitator of discussion, a mediator in dispute, an advisor, and sometimes – a sole owner of the decision, with the rest of the team only providing necessary inputs. Consequently, a crucial Manager’s role is to recognize what is required in every single context. In addition to that he must also chose and assign the roles to other players in the decision-making process. These roles generally correspond to the ones I discussed in my posts on TeamBuilding, but each decision will also require a different subject matter expert. They will also differ in relation to context.
In addition to the parameters of the Team and its overall skill set, the Manager should also consider his or her personal style of management while setting a process for specific decision. It’s best when those two match each other, as it is meaningless to expect from the team an input it is unable to provide. Here is the list of variables that could be influenced by those two factors:
- The extent of Manager’s involvement in the decision making process (from being in the middle of every single step to being only informed of outcomes).
- Types of decisions to focus on, i.e. everyday, logistic, technical, strategic, holistic decisions etc.
- Preference to form an opinion based on provided data vs. someone’s analysis of this data. It’s important to remember that sometimes only the Manager possesses the crucial pieces of information need to correctly interpret the data or enough experience to put it in context.
- Who is to be the presenter of the idea, decision or outcome to others. Not always the one who comes up with an idea or makes the decision is the best one to communicate it.
There are also things that Manager cannot choose and they would always remain his sole prerogative:
- Responsibility for the decision always lies on Manager’s shoulders, regardless of who made the decision and even if he was not part of the process at all.
- It is Manager’s responsibility to make it clear how he wants the decisions to be navigated in the group, so no one should be guessing about that.
- It is also Manager’s responsibility to choose the path of conducting things and to adjust the process if he sees it does not serve the needs of the team.
- Assigning credit for the participation in the decision making process. It is always tempting for a Manager to present all successful decisions as his own (in some part, as a compensation for the sole acceptance of responsibility), but I strongly advice against that. Failing to appropriately reward team members for their crucial contribution will undermine their future initiative and motivation to participate in the process. As a result of such policy, people could prefer not to speak up their mind, to hide information (grudgingly waiting to see how you will manage decisions now without their support) or even worse – will compromise your decisions in and outside the team.
All mentioned consideration should be converted into clear engagement rules we spoke about in previous post and communicated to the Team. The better the Team will know and understand your style and the engagement rules, the better will the decisions and their implementation.
There is much more to decision making, but at least, now we know about the decision-making process, the types of decision-making groups and about the Manager’s role in the whole affair, so there is already much to work with.