— March 28, 2018
A common myth abounds in business circles – the myth that good decision makers are born, not made. Untrue.
If we are honest with ourselves, we know that we can become better decision makers through experience and practice. Think about it right now. Are you better at making decisions than you were ten years ago? Chances are the answer, no matter how old you are, is yes.
As a leader, you are not just worried about your own decision-making ability. You are also worried about the ability of your team members make decisions individually, and your team to make decisions as a group. You want to lead a team that knows what they are responsible for, that knows the criteria for good decision making, and can be trusted to make decisions that are in the best interest of the company.
That is the only way for you, as a manager, to trust them. And you need to trust them in order to empower them, and develop the kind of effective team you need to succeed.
The good news is, there are things you can do to help them. Here are three ways to ensure your team makes better decisions:
- Help them with framing
- Let them fail
- Teach them to evaluate
Help Them with Framing
The key to any decision is putting it into its appropriate context. For a company, there should be a common set of goals that we are all working toward. Clear and transparent communication around these goals is key to framing every decision.
When confronted with a decision, large or small, we want our employees to ask themselves one simple question: How will my decision impact the company?
The answer to this question is not always obvious. For example, if I’m asked to choose between building out a marketing capability in house or outsourcing it to an agency, it is not going to be clear right away with option is better for the company. But if I know that one of our goals is to take more ownership over our growth, I know that building out a capability is a better fit for who we want to be as an organization.
You want your team to think about the outcomes of their decision. Will this help or hurt the company en route to its larger goals? And you can help them do that by being open about what those goals are.
Let Them Fail
We all make mistakes. As managers, we don’t like to advertise that fact. We like to pretend that we got to where we are today by making all the right decisions and actions along the way.
However, the truth is far from those perfect versions of ourselves. We stumbled and took missteps along the way. And yet, here we are.
As a manager, the first step to empowering your team to make better decisions is empowering them to make more decisions. And you have to get over your fear of failure, which we all harbor.
Your team will make the wrong decision sometimes. And that has to be okay. While we should not encourage failure, and we should address each one and learn from it, we have to admit that failing happens sometimes. It’s the only way to instill a sense of trust and openness on your team. And it’s the only way anyone is going to learn to improve going forward.
Teach Them to Evaluate
The last thing you need to do to encourage your team members to become better decision makers is to teach them to evaluate the decisions they make. This is a time for learning and growth.
We should evaluate all decisions – large and small. We should evaluate our winners as well as our losers.
There is always something to learn. In some cases, evaluation is all about examining the results. What went well? Did we meet expectations? What happened that we did not anticipate, and should we have seen that?
Through these decision post-mortems, you will learn to appreciate the things that are outside of your control, and to see the things that you do have control over. Each decision going forward will build on the decisions of the past. And the more we understand – through careful practice and honest evaluation – the more prepared we will be to make better decisions in the future.