Making decisions can be one of the most difficult aspects of working with a team. Trying to agree on the best course of action can be a tedious and emotionally draining activity. You need to move forward, yet hope to get everyone on board.
Most leaders want to create a culture where team members feel valued in the decision making process. One where they feel empowered to also make decisions on their own, with little to no supervision.
This can also be difficult because as much as you may want to empower someone to make decisions, people are unique creatures – everyone is wired differently. What one person may need to help make a decision can be drastically different from another.
Making Better Decisions
I recently read an article by Stephen Belomy on Entrepreneur.com called, “Teach Your Team to Make Fearless Decisions.” In a nutshell, he says that by,
Allowing your employees the power to make decisions not only makes them feel empowered, but it also just makes sense. By delegating tasks to staff members — and not micromanaging — you can focus on the company’s long-term strategies, maintaining the vision and scaling the business.
Belomy says he encourages his team to each make 10 decisions a day, knowing at least 3 of them (or 30%) will be wrong. The premise is that if you empower people to make their own decisions, and understand why, they will have more ownership and be more committed.
However, assigning a “decision quota” for each team member, seems like it might not be the best approach.
A Better Way to Make Decisions
I agree with his idea in concept. He doesn’t want those on his team to feel like they always have to come to him to OK every decision. Similarly, he wants to focus on his own decision making, not micromanaging the decisions of others.
What if, instead of telling everyone to make 10 decision per day, there was deeper understanding around how and why team members made decisions? It would give him better insight into an individual’s process of decision making.
One could then rely on certain people as certain types of decisions need to be made.
- If someone needs lots of information before making a decision, ask them to do the research and present it to the group.
- If someone is good in the moment with on the spot decisions, give them the time sensitive ones.
- If someone else is good at bringing people together when decisions need to be made collectively, assign them to facilitate group decision making sessions.
And on and on…
How StrengthsFinder Can Help you You Make Decisions
StrengthsFinder can be a great tool to help you make better decisions. It points to areas where you are naturally wired, and have the most potential.
For example, someone with Strategic is likely going to take a very different approach than someone with Deliberative. If you expect both of those people to make 10 decisions per day, you might be disappointed.
This is a huge generalization, but the person with Strategic or Activator might not make 10 decision. They are probably making 100! Using the “30% of decisions are wrong” concept, that’s 30 decisions that don’t work.
Conversely, someone with Deliberative or Input might only make 2 decisions, but only .6% won’t work.
Which approach is better? The answer is both.
When you know how people are wired, you will know what types of decisions come most naturally for them. You will have a better understanding of the timing to their decisions, and the amount of information they may need before making one.
You are also likely able to give them some grace if their approach is drastically different from yours.
We occasionally find tension in a group around the way people make decisions. While some of it is simply personality, there is a lot that can be learned after the 1 to 1 conversation. These insights help the group understand how team members approach decision making.
On senior leader we worked with had Self-Assurance, Responsibility and Strategic. He possessed great confidence, and took incredible ownership of any decision that fell on his plate. Unfortunately his decisions sometimes came across as definitive and “done.” There wasn’t much room for discussion.
On the other end of the spectrum… we were working with a different client, and a less senior person had the themes of Learner, Includer and Emathy. She was awesome and making people feel welcome and part of the group. Her decisions also involved the group, as she would ask for a lot of input (from peers and managers) before making them.
In both cases, the teams these people were on, expressed frustration with the way they made decisions. After helping explain how these individuals were wired during the Learning Community 360, the teams gained a greater understanding and could see how the things that annoyed them, were also used as strengths.
Choosing Strengths Based Decision Making
If you take a strengths based approach to building your team, you are making a deliberate and intentional choice to empower your people. Using a tool like StrengthsFinder will enable you to understand what your team needs ahead of time for those moments when tough decisions need to be made.
It will give insight into each person’s approach to decision making, answering questions like;
- Do they need more time?
- Do they need more information?
- Do they need input from others?
- Do they need to see all options laid out in front of them?
This is not only good for improving employee engagement, but it will help the whole team make decisions from a greater place of collective strength. That typically leads to better outcomes now and in the future.