Decisions more apt to work if everyone is involved from start
By Anita Bruzzese
Gannett News Service
If you're having trouble getting anyone at work to make a decision on anything from deciding what kind of coffee filter to use to setting the budget for the next big project then it's time you revamped the way you reach an agreement.
Don Maruska, an executive coach and motivational speaker, says decision-making in the workplace often becomes a battle of wills, with each side determined to win. Such attitudes, he says, are what kill any hope of an amicable agreement and harmony on the job.
Learn more: If you're interested in more information on decision-making, go to www.donmaruska.com.
Instead, if everyone is involved from the beginning in making a decision that affects them they don't become "ego-attached" to a specific plan but focus on solving the problem. The important thing is to realize, Maruska said, is that workers needn't agree on the reasons behind a decision, but it's critical that they agree on the solution.
Unless effective decision-making skills are used, he said, the matter will begin to spill over into each worker's life, on and off the job. "It begins to infect everything," he said.
That's why he has come up with a 10-step process he says will lead to agreement, even on the toughest issues:
- Involve everyone who has a stake in the topic or knows something about it. This is often the first stumbling block when trying to reach an agreement. Why exclude anyone who can offer a good idea?
- Be clear about the organization's hopes as well as specific hopes for each major project. Consistently express your aspirations and why they are important to you.
- Listen to each person's thoughts and feelings about a topic to understand the real issue. More people will commit themselves if they feel they are being given respect, time and attention.
- Get all the options on the table. Look at all the alternatives before you leap to a conclusion.
- Focus on information-gathering and how the options help in realizing the group's hopes. Make sure participants see this as a way to learn together, rather than gathering support for their positions.
- When reviewing choices, listen to everyone's negatives and positives on each option. Ego attachment to particular points of view kills effective team decision-making.
- Encourage candid judgments from each person on the choices that would best advance the team's hopes. Participants should be free to give their choices without feeling like they must go along or be looked down on if they change their mind.
- Summarize individual conclusions and identify the most desirable course of action as well as acceptable choices. Participants should be ready to work together to improve the favored choice and be ready to go to another plan if necessary.
- Monitor whether the decisions are working, and promptly modify them if needed. Set a time frame to determine whether something isn't working and to make changes along the way.
- Celebrate the team's progress and the fulfillment of the hopes.