If you are feeling the effects of chronic pandemic fatigue, you are not alone. Yet, as leader, you can’t afford it. Your role calls for you to be fresh and alert, with answers that respond to the immediate and support the future.
Samantha recognized her team’s ability to make decisions together had eroded over time.
“We need a total reboot when it comes to our decision-making process,” she said. “How do I go about that?”
“Decision-making is critical, and especially now that uncharted territory becomes the norm,” I said. You are in the same boat as a lot of other excellent leaders. Let’s start with a basic framework for making sound decisions. And I’ll give you some additional things to think about at each step.”
Keys to Sound Decision-Making
Identify the issue.
This sounds simple, yet many mistakenly pinpoint the problem they see as the issue that needs fixing.
What’s the difference?
You may receive reports that your call center or area that supports customer inquiries cannot handle the incoming calls. But is it the employees’ abilities, the process they use, or the system that supports their area?
In my work with leaders, I often hear, “They just need to learn how to work faster.”
This may be true in some cases. However, I find that most employees want to do well, and it can be, instead, that the process they are asked to use or the system that supports the department is at fault. Be sure to analyze the problem that is in front of you to see if there is a root cause or issue that needs to be remedied. Otherwise, you will spend time and energy on something that will continue to erupt.
Identify and include key stakeholders in your discussions.
Who needs to be involved?
Classically, the executive team or leader and group for the immediate area will assemble to discuss and decide on solutions. However, a great deal of valuable input is missed if we don’t ask the question, “Who will be affected by the decision in front of you?” and then involve representatives from that area to take place in the discussions. Once you include voices from those who will be impacted, you can gather a lot of key information that will help you avoid and redirect potential problems coming from the solution!
Make a real decision.
Once you have identified the issue and assembled key stakeholders around the table, make sure you don’t wind up suffering from normalcy bias or, “the ostrich effect.” Normalcy bias says we will avoid the problem by ignoring it. If you have left a meeting without having made a decision toward a next step, your team is reflecting normalcy bias. This often occurs because people do not want to have the tough conversations needing to occur. If you feel your team is waffling on a decision, ask yourself what conversation needs to take place in order to move forward.
Play out the scenarios to assess potential impact.
Take the short list of solutions and outline how each of them would play out. Whom and what would they affect? How? Can you measure or quantify this? What would wins entail? Losses? Be sure you tease out the impact of each so that you are ready to take responsibility for the outcomes.
Watch for hidden agendas and subtle non-commitment.
Keep watch for those team members that do not speak up or that make comments that reflect a lack of commitment. Call on them to weigh in to make sure you have ferreted out any potential dissension. And, conversely, watch for those who are quick to agree without asking questions. This may indicate either a lack of interest, understanding, or an avoidance to confrontation in case they disagree.
Finally, I shared with Samantha that a shared agreement around how the those involved will remain aligned and coordinated throughout the process is imperative. Who will be the gatekeeper for this process?
The way you and your team make decisions can make or break the future success of your company. I encourage you to have a conversation around the way you make decisions and to test the steps outlined above.
© Patti Cotton and patticotton.com. All rights reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express written permission from the author is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that attribution is made to Patti Cotton and patticotton.com, with links thereto.
Patti Cotton helps executives optimize their effectiveness in leading self, others, and the enterprise. Her areas of focus include confidence, leadership style, executive presence, effective communication, succession planning, and masterful execution. With over 25 years of leadership experience, both stateside and abroad, Patti works with individuals, teams, and organizations across industries, providing executive consulting, leadership development, succession planning, change management, and conflict resolution. She is also an experienced Fortune 500 speaker. For more information on how Patti Cotton can help you and your organization, click here.