I remember years ago when I was doing quite a bit of team-building consulting, and often I’d get asked by a leader “What do you think I ought to do for team building?” Since team building can consist of everything from spending time together at a football game on the informal side of things, to participating in strategic planning sessions on the formal side, how was I to immediately know what was appropriate? I couldn’t! Certainly, I was happy to assist the leader with some Discovery and “digging” to find their answer, yet typically my first response to the leader’s question was this:
“If you want to know what will make your team more bonded and happy, what kind of activities they would like to engage in together, ASK them!” The leader often hadn’t thought of that! Now if we look at the research on decision-making, most studies will show that 9 times out of 10, if you have a team make a decision, the quality of that decision will be higher than if just one person makes it. Why? You get more perspectives! Also, if a person has a voice in a decision or direction, they will be more emotionally committed to it. Sometimes we know this, but still don’t take the time to involve the team.
Why don’t we involve others in key decision-making? Sometimes it’s an obvious and justifiable reason, as when there’s an emergency and someone must call the shots — there’s no time for consensus or 10 people weighing in. But at other times, we have illusions about decision-making, or about asking others for input. Here are a few common illusions or stumbling blocks I’ve come across in clients’ thinking:
- I’m the leader therefore I’m supposed to know the answer. (Asking would make me seem weak or ignorant.)
- I’m the expert, so I should make the decision (without input from others).
- Others are busy, why should I bother them?
- They’ve never been asked for their input before.
- Too many opinions would be like too many cooks in the kitchen.
- What if I disagree? What then?
Have you ever been to a meeting where folks in attendance did not even know why they were there, were not involved at all up front? Did you observe some resistance or resentment? As a workshop leader, I’ve seen this happen whenever clients did a poor job of involving their teams in advance.
Take the time to analyze a recent situation where you might have made a better decision or avoided disgruntled co-workers by involving them versus not. Yes, sometimes you may know best, but just asking others for their views assists them in feeling heard, even if you do find yourself disagreeing. If you’ve got a team meeting coming up, you’ll find people show up with more enthusiasm if you asked for their input in some way. Next time you’re puzzling on how to make a decision that involves your team, ask yourself how you can best involve them in the process, and how that factors into the larger result you are seeking: their buy-in and commitment to that decision!
©2018 Marie Moran