Whose Call is This?: Creating Decision Making Clarity

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Does your team understand who has the responsibility to make a decision?

A key source of office conflict is related to lack of clarity in decision making. When people have different expectations about who gets to make a decision, frustration often results. There is a simple principle that outlines the four types of decisions that can be made. Providing your team with clarity about which of these styles is being used will help eliminate frustration.

  1. Decisions I make

This clearly states that I am the one who will make the decision.

“We need to determine which company will cater our golf event. I would like you to compile all the proposals and I will use the results to make my decision.

  1. Decisions I make after consulting with you

This process informs the other person that you value their input. However, it also clearly communicates that you will be the one making the final decision.

“We need to determine which company will cater our golf event. I would like you to compile all the proposals for me. Then we will meet and discuss them as I would appreciate your input since you have worked on a lot of the details. After that, I will make the final decision.”

  1. Decisions you make

This provides clear instruction which inform someone that they are in charge of the decision.

“We need to decide which company will cater our golf event. I would like you to review the quotes and make a final decision. Please stay within our budget and speak with me if you have questions or problems.”

  1. Decisions we make together

This is consensus-style of decision making. Typically, all participants have equal authority in the final decision.

“We need to choose a company to cater our golf event. To accomplish this, we will meet together, review the proposals and score them. After that, we will use a voting system to decide between our top three options.”

While this seems like an amazingly simple concept, it is equally amazing how workplace conflict often stems from a lack of clarity. Consider these three examples:

o   Ryan storms out of his bosses’ office and begins ranting that he never listens to his ideas about the golf tournament. The problem: Ryan’s boss never told him that he was not a part of the selection process. As a result, he felt entitled to be a part of something that was not his responsibility.

o   Nicole is scolded by her boss for not following through on a job he gave her. The problem: Her boss never communicated that she was in charge of that decision. As a result, she was waiting for her boss to make the decision so nothing occurred.

o   The Marketing department is stuck in a meeting that won’t end because no one is making a decision about the upcoming golf tournament. The problem: No one communicated that the final decision was going to be made by the entire team. As a result, people are waiting for the boss to make a decision.

Do you have any examples of how this has played out in your workplace? Have you discovered any other simple ways to reduce workplace conflict?

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