Making Decisions – Two Considerations You Need to Remember

Your Boss and Employees Watch Every Decision You Make.

For those of you who have been a leader for awhile, you know full well that decision making as a leader is very different from decision making as an individual contributor. When someone is just concerned with the product of their efforts, processes and procedures, the decisions they make are primarily technical with not a great deal of focus on the human impact of the decisions.

Now that you are a leader, your decisions need to take not only the technical aspects into account, you need to think about many more aspects of decisions.

The decisions you make as a leader are important not only for the welfare of your department and your company, they are important to your career because your boss will use your decisions as a metric to measure your performance. The people that report to you are also paying a lot of attention to the decisions you make because they want to feel secure that you make high quality, timely, and confident decisions because their futures are affected by them.

So, how do you make sure your decisions are good in your boss’s eyes and in the judgment of your employees?

Your Boss’s Perceptions. When you are promoted to a leadership position or hired from the outside as a leader your new boss had expectations of you in many performance areas. Some of those perceptions were of how well you would make decisions.

The higher you are in the organization, the broader the scope of the decisions you make. Early on, if you can, have a discussion with your boss about the parameters of the decisions you will be making. Discuss the following areas to be clear with each other:

  • Cost parameters. What is your dollar approval limit? Do you have any leeway with budget input/overruns, etc.? How are departmental raises determined? Is your annual bonus tied to meeting budget and cost expectations? Money is important in every company and you need to understand that you are a steward of the company’s funds.
  • Boss involvement. Remember, part of your job as an employee is to make your boss look good. In the early stages of your involvement with your boss, talk about how much they want to be involved in the decisions you make. Your boss has a boss who is going to be looking for good decisions coming from everyone in the department. Sometimes, we wonder why our bosses make certain decisions. Your boss has a bigger perspective than you do which may be influencing their decisions.
  • Solicit feedback. Most organizations have annual performance reviews, so I am sure yours does also. Unfortunately, those reviews are typically used to determine raise and bonuses. I am not talking about soliciting feedback in the formal review process. I am talking about asking your boss for some instructive feedback on how you are doing with decision making. When you have those discussions, be prepared with some decisions you have made that the boss will be able to tell you about.

Your Employees’ Perceptions. Even though it is not appropriate necessarily for employees to give you feedback on your decision-making ability, they will let you know how you are doing in more subtle ways. Employees will primarily let you know what they think of your decisions by the motivation they show in carrying out your decisions. If they hesitate in acting, come up with excuses, hold back on ideas or flat out sabotage your success, it may be signs that they do not approve of your decision making.

To gain insights on how your employees feel about your decisions and get them on board, try these tips.

  • When you have a decision facing you that affects your employees, seek their input prior to making a decision. Be a good listener and honestly take their thoughts into account. Do not just go through the motions – people can tell.
  • When seeking input, be honest about how you will make the decision. Will employees participate in the decision or just give you input? Will you need to make the decision alone with no employee input? If you want a collaborative decision with employee involvement, know that it will take longer.
  • After decisions are put in place and results are in, debrief the whole process. Bring together some key employees and replay the entire process and ask for honest input on how it all went.

Most leaders make decisions by primarily considering cost, customer, schedule, production, quality, safety, etc. Keep in mind that how you make decisions is being watched closely by your boss and your employees.

Steve Schumacher is a management consultant, trainer and public speaker with more than 25 years of experience in numerous industries throughout North America, including aggregates operations. He can be reached at [email protected].

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