Help your team make better decisions

Use these strategies to encourage and develop employees’ decision-making skills. By Priya Prakasan

Delegating effectively is a key skill leaders need to develop so as to be able to focus on scaling the business and working on the company vision. By delegating tasks you’re also delegating the decisions that surround them. This can be an empowering move for employees, but can backfire if you haven’t laid the groundwork for it. Here are a few things you can do to develop an effective team that makes wise decisions.

1. Help them in framing the context and right questions
When dealing with a decision, how we perceive the context and frame the problem question has a huge impact on the decision options we select. To start with, the decision needs to be placed in the appropriate context. This is where you come in. Help them understand their goals, the common set of company goals everyone is working towards, and the role this decision plays in these. Frame the decision in such a way that it impacts the company in a productive way. Part of this involves asking the right questions that help them explore and develop different decision options. Emphasise that neutral framing is important in such situations, so wording has a huge role to play.

2. Get over your fear of failure
Failure is a necessary part of growth and we’ve all learnt important lessons from our mistakes. So acknowledge the fact that your team will fail sometimes, they will make bad/wrong decisions. And it is okay; it’s an important part of their development and training. Allow your team to make mistakes so that they get over the fear of failure and allow them to experiment without paralysing fear. Empower them to develop their decision-making skills by showing them your trust in them. Also, address the failure and help them learn from it so to emerge stronger than before.

3. Evaluate decision-making effectiveness
An important step after a decision is made is evaluation. Teach your team to evaluate all decisions, however big or small they may be. This includes the successes and the failures. These provide opportunities for learning and growth. Did we meet the goal? What did not go as expected? What were the circumstances we didn’t foresee? What worked during the decision-making process, what didn’t? Regular practice and frank evaluation will help them build on the decisions of the past so as to become better decision makers. As a leader you too need to conduct your own evaluations. Monitor team performance around key processes. Over a period of time and using different key processes, evaluate their decision-making effectiveness by comparing expected results with the actual outcome. This will help you analyse risks and help you help them make improvements for future decisions.

4. Provide constructive criticism
Always focus on feedback as it plays a major role in an employee’s decision-making skills. Constructive criticism essentially means a balance of positive and negative feedback. It is a valuable tool that helps employees learn and grow. If you stick to general criticism, it will not work in your favour, as it only alienates and demoralises. Narrow down the problem and be specific when you give feedback. Provide measurable changes and time frames for improvement so as to keep things proactive.

5. Instil the organisation’s vision and values
To make good decisions, your team needs to be aligned with the organisation’s vision, values, and priorities. And it’s part of your role as a leader to ensure this understanding exists and that the team is primed to execute the vision. Communicate with clarity and provide clear guidelines so as to avoid confusion and lack of direction. Better decisions result when the workforce is aligned with the strategic priorities of an organisation.


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