When you make a decision, you are exercising your “decision making” muscle. The more you do it, the stronger it gets and the more confidence you gain in your ability to make decisions. You can feel this happening, after you make a tough decision, other decisions often seem much easier to make. This is the same with your team. When they exercise their decision making ability, they get stronger and better at making decisions in the future.
Let your team make decisions on their own so that they can build their decision making muscles. Here are some warning signs of a team that doesn’t have a lot of decision making muscle:
1. They present problems, not solutions. If your team brings you problems without any recommendations, they probably need to work on their decision making muscle. A team that either handles issues as they arise, or brings you issues with proposed solutions, has confidence in their ability to make decisions. The Ritz Carlton gives most of its employees up to $1,500 in decision making authority to make decisions that will improve the experience of their guests. That is letting them exercise their decision making muscle.
2. They don't speak up in meetings. When people are afraid of making decisions or in an environment that doesn't encourage making decisions, they are self-conscious about bringing forth solutions. The next time you have a meeting, ask yourself how much participation are you getting from your team? Are you doing all the talking or is your team providing input and discussion. Does everyone always agree with your point of view, or do they feel comfortable in challenging your ideas? Organizations that support exercising the decision making muscle have engaged communication.
3. There is a lot of “Monday Morning Quarterbacking”. The term “Monday Morning Quarterbacking” refers to second guessing the decisions made by the quarterback in SUnday’s football game. The quarterback had to make decisions in the heat of the moment, with the best information that was available at the time. It is often much easier to look back and second guess those decisions. However, the organization that does so in a critical way will prevent its team from exercising its decision making muscle in the future. Don’t second guess decisions, you may need to correct and make changes, but don’t go back and criticize the decision that was made in the heat of the moment. The time to challenge it is when the decision is being made, not after it has been made.
4. Bottlenecks. Bottlenecks often occur because there is a hold up in the decision making process. If only a few people have the ability to make decisions, then all decision making “traffic” leads to them and it creates a bottleneck. Think of the projects that are lagging behind schedule, is it because it reached a decision making bottleneck? Most likely the answer is “yes”. Identify those bottlenecks, and ask yourself what decisions did someone hold onto to keep those projects from moving?
Support your team when they make decisions. Coach them through the process, gradually build up the responsibility you give them, but let them make decisions and don’t do it for them. It only weakens their ability to make decisions in the future and it hurts your organization. If you want to grow, you need a team that is confident and capable of making good decisions on their own.