One of the best ways to make better decisions as managers is to stop trying to make them all ourselves. Instead, we need to empower better decisions from the people on our team. Loosening the reins of control around decisions can feel unsettling at first. But if you deliberately encourage and empower your people to make decisions—and let them learn from their mistakes rather than correcting them for them—you’ll build a stronger team in the long run.
Here are four ways to empower better decisions around you:
1. Reduce the number of decisions your team has to make: Empowering people on your team to make decisions doesn’t mean that you abdicate all of your decision-making responsibilities. It means strategically choosing specific decisions that others can make. Should your client services person decide the new workflow for responding to client requests in a newly remote work set up? Definitely. Should that same person be involved in deciding how to allocate a reduced budget for client services? Probably not.
2. Give them more freedom than ever to make those decisions on their own: When we shift decision-making responsibility over to our team, it can be easy to fall into micromanaging. We might think we’re coaching or teaching, but, really, we’re trying to get someone else to make the same decision we would make. This is never a good look, but it’s especially problematic in times of crisis and upheaval. When time is tight and the need for expediency is high, choose to support the decisions your people are making and the fact that they’ve made them.
3. Reward and recognize their decision-making process: As your team takes on more decision making, be sure to celebrate and share their wins, as well as encouraging them to learn from mistakes. Recognizing positive outcomes of decisions helps people integrate and validate their choices. And learning from mistakes gives them time to reflect and refine for next time. Either way, be supportive: people grow—and learn to make better decisions in the long run—when they feel encouraged along the way.
4. Open your own decision-making process to discussion and challenge: Remember that, while you’re the key decision maker on your team, you’re also a model for them. As you shift decisions to others on your team, open up your own process. Be transparent with how you came to make a particular decision: what factors did you weigh? What was challenging? What trade-offs did you make? How did you handle uncertainty? Share this process and listen for feedback—and even challenges—from your team. This doesn’t mean inviting feedback on the decision itself; that’s yours. But by opening the process, you, too, may learn something that will help you continue to grow.
This content is a part of our upcoming Managing in the Moment Program, which launches soon in the Nomadic Academy. Stay tuned for more information!