How To Include Your Employees in Meaningful Decision
Work comes to be meaningful when individuals see themselves as capable of substantively influencing outcomes. It tells them they are not powerless and that they have the ability to make a real difference. Research shows that allowing employees to participate in managerial decisions also positively impacts job satisfaction, organizational commitment, labor-management relations, job performance and organizational performance, employee absenteeism and profits. The method of centering decision-making processes on employees allows those employees to contribute their best, grow the most, and feel worthwhile and worthy. Follow these seven steps if you want to include staff in decision making:
1. Fulfill the foundational requirements: The top two characteristics are a climate of trust and a commitment to information sharing. Being clear on roles can help eliminate the chaos that can occur when people think they have the authority to decide or veto, but they really don’t.
2. Hold a decision stakeholders meeting: Confirm the decision criteria, objectives, roles and responsibilities established as part of the foundational requirement. Identify resources, and set milestones.
3. Ask for a recommendation: Give them time and space to think options through, cast their own critical eye on those options, form their own recommendations and then share those options with a decision-making body.
4. Conduct inquiries, not inquisitions: Ask good questions, and listen with understanding while showing appreciation for the thinking behind the points of view being presented. Let respect, intellectual honesty, curiosity and the desire to comprehend drive the line of questioning.
5. Debate. Decide. Commit: Varying viewpoints should be protected and respected and visibly considered. Then when it’s time to decide, it’s time to decide — period. Ask for commitment to the decision.
6. Ensure energy-yielding outcomes: The outcomes should return the energy back into the system. This energy can take the form of an organization visibly acting on decisions and sticking to them over the long haul and seeing decisions communicated quickly and broadly.
7. Conduct a decision quality check: A post-mortem on a sample of decisions can bring enrichment through retrospection.
What about when the employee isn’t just a participant in a decision but is the proprietor of the decision? If involving employees in decision-making is meaningful to them, then enabling them to actually make the decision will be exponentially more important. Here are eight ways to grant autonomy in an intelligent fashion:
1. Fulfill the foundational requirements: Intelligent autonomy requires a baseline of trust and a practice of information sharing. An additional requirement rests on the manager’s willingness to delegate growth work, not just grunt work.
2. Have an agreement for autonomy in place: Managers often struggle with the empowerment of their subordinates, seeing it only as a loss of their own power. Develop an agreement for autonomy to formalize the rules of engagement and operation in the handover of power.
3. Facilitate recipient readiness: Provide training and resources; have a discussion with them about the benefits of the new-found autonomy.
4. Provide intrinsic and extrinsic reward: Build in flexibility to allow employees to define what they want to get out of the new autonomy. Proper recognition for expanded responsibility that is well handled is a must.
5. Facilitate by assisting success versus avoiding failure: Let the cycle of empowerment work itself out, where the employee learns from both successes and failures. You have to act as a facilitator, not a fixer.
6. Construct communication loops: Autonomous employees shouldn’t go off the grid but instead should report back regularly on progress. You can’t just delegate and check out, either. Communication needs to be a two-way street.
7. Covet communication loops: Communicate with your empowered employees so that they actually come to covet the communication loops in place over time. Leave the empowered feeling that it is productive and powerful to continue inviting management in along the way.
8. Tie a measurement tether: Establishing success criteria and measures in the agreement for autonomy and reviewing progress periodically will help ensure work stays on course.