The Goldilocks Approach to Making Decisions

It’s not easy to find just the right level of involvement in making decisions within an organization. Every culture dictates slightly different expectations.

Too Little

Making decisions on your own when the outcome impacts others is unwise. The process goes faster that way, and you might feel empowered. But you personally have to own and live with the consequences. Others will not feel shared accountability for the outcome because you made a unilateral decision.
It’s even worse when you ask others for input or feedback and then disregard it or don’t incorporate it. Avoid this scenario at all costs. When you ask for feedback, you have two choices:

  • Use/incorporate it in some form or fashion
  • Circle back to thank the stakeholder and let them know what happened that caused you to elect not to use/incorporate their feedback

Too Much

As the saying goes, two heads are better than one. However, that does not mean 15 heads are better than two. Some organizations have a tendency to over-collaborate or over-involve. This behavior can come from various root causes, such as:

  • Not wanting to leave anyone out
  • Decision-makers don’t believe they’re empowered to make a choice and want to involve others in order to ensure they have back up or support for whatever the final outcome may be to share accountability

Over-collaboration results in several problems, including:

  • Poor time management or inefficiencies (ex: way too many meetings)
  • Lack of leadership
  • Getting work done takes a really long time
  • Decisions can get un-done or un-made, so they don’t stick

Just Right

When a decision impacts others, involve the stakeholder(s) affected by the outcome(s). That way, you understand the ramifications of your decision (for better or for worse), so you can make an informed choice.

This is good stakeholder management, which leads to building leadership while also working efficiently and effectively. Sometimes you DO have to go slow to go fast. This means it’s worth it to hold the pre-meetings 1:1 to get input in advance of the big presentation to executives.

Betsy Winkler is a Partner at PeopleResults. She can be reached on Twitter @BetsyWinkler1