Too often managers feel as if all decisions must be made by them. This may work fine and not cause any issues when an organization is smaller, but as an organization grows decisions making must be pushed down the line. Empowering others within the organization to make decisions enables – for the employee to feel:
- “Ownership” in his/her role
- Engaged and committed
- Pride in the job
And, it enables for skill building and professional development opportunities.
For the company, empowering others to make decisions enables for:
- Increased customer satisfaction (quicker response to customer needs/inquiries)
- Improved decision making overall (enable others to participate in and make decisions and you’ll find that better, more innovative decisions are made)
- Engaged and motivated employees
- Management to focus on strategic issues and more complex problems
I understand that there is sometimes a hesitancy to enable decision making for non-managers. There is a fear of increased risks if the wrong decision is made. There is a hesitancy to “let go” of a role that many managers feel is theirs along. And there is a fear that the employee may make better decisions than the manager will!
Consider these best practices to empower decision making throughout the organization and to increase management comfort in enabling for employees to make decisions within their area of expertise:
- Provide employees a framework for decision making.
- What processes, procedures, tools are used to make decisions?
- How do you (the manager) want to be kept “in the loop?”
- What decisions can be made by the employee and within what parameters?
- Train employees in how to use the framework and how to make decisions effectively. Ensure that any training includes the ability to practice decision -making skills using “real life” scenarios from the business.
- Are there key questions they should ask themselves before making a decision?
- Is there a checklist to go through to ensure they thought of everything?
- How are alternatives evaluated?
- Enable for security by monitoring the employee the first few times he/she needs to make a decision. Don’t do it for him/her; rather, be there to answer questions that arise and to ensure they understand how to work through the decision-making process. This also provides a “safety net” for the employee and increases their confidence in making decisions.
- During one-on-one meetings, check in with employees to be sure they are doing fine and are comfortable with making the decisions they are making.
Decisions can be made at any level within the organization, and quite effectively. Start slowly if needed to increase your own comfort with delegating decision-making. Set parameters that make you feel comfortable. For example, I may choose to empower customer service representatives to make decisions that do not have a cost of more than $500 to the company per customer, or I may permit them to refund the customer in full for any product purchased within 30 days for any reason at all.
You’ll find that when others are involved in decision making you’ll end up with better decisions overall! Employees will look at things from a different perspective – their own experiences – which enables for innovation and creativity in decision making.