By Biagio “Bill” Sciacca
Notice that I didn’t title this article: Do you assist your employees in making GOOD decisions? If you are wondering why I left out the word “good,” it’s because that I believe that all decisions are good decisions if we can learn from them. The results of a decision teach us to act (or not act) in the future.
As a child, if we made a decision to touch a hot stove, there is a very good chance that we never made that same decision in the future!
This about your employees: How many of them come into your office and ask you what they should do in a particular situation? How do you react? I’ll bet you answer them. And I’ll bet you answer them with a solution. Let me go further, I’ll bet you answer them with a solution based upon what you would do. That is, you giveyour best answer. Of course you do. It makes perfect sense. But by doing that, we are excluding the possibility that other outcomes may be appropriate. Just because we (the boss) didn’t think of the other outcomes doesn’t mean they don’t exist or are not valid.
Here is a statement that I use when I get to problem-solving and decision-making with my students: If you want to control the outcome of a situation, you need to control the action taken at the point of decision-making. Basically, when a decision has to be made, that action (decision) will, in all likelihood, determine the outcome.
So, as a manager, if we want to control the outcome, we need to control the decisions our employees make. But, as a manager, we don’t make to make the decision for them. What we want is for them to make the decision, but, hopefully, make the right decision.
Therefore, the big question becomes: How do we assist our employees in making better decisions? Here are a few ideas:
1. React positively to the decisions that your employees make — even if they are incorrect! No one says that you need to follow through with them, only act positively to them. If your employees feel that you are open to new ideas, they will think of more.
2. If an employee asks you what to do (instead of figuring it out themselves), ask them what theythink some solutions are. After you gather a few possible decisions from them, ask them which one they think is the best one. From there you can have an open dialogue about what the best course of action is to implement.
3. Create a climate in your working environment that emphasizes risk-taking as a good thing. Making a new decision is taking a risk. Most people will not mind leaving their comfort zone if they know they won’t embarrassed publicly over their decision.
4. Always debrief with your employees. What went right should be repeated in the future. What went wrong should be avoided in the future. Of course, “the future” is a nebulous term. What is incorrect now may be perfectly OK at some point. A good manager monitors trends and alters decision-making philosophies based upon his or her perceptions.
5. Train your people in decision-making and problem-solving. Yes, they are trainable subjects. Call in someone from the outside if necessary.
Each of us is in charge of our own life and the fabric of that life is based upon the quality of the decisions that we make. Our job as a manager is not to make the decision for our employees, but to assist them in making their own decisions and making them as correctly as possible.
Thanks for reading! If you have any comments, shoot me an email.
Biagio “Bill” Sciacca is CEO of Intelligent Motivation Inc., a training and consulting firm, as well as the author of “GoalsBook: Embracing Personal Responsibility in an Age of Entitlement” and is full-time instructor of economics and business administration at Penn State University. Bill can be reached at 570-430-9303 or bill@