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What’s A Recent Management Decision You Didn’t Understand?

Your goal in asking this question is to determine if you need to work on the quality of the decisions you make or the way you communicate your decisions. These are two different things. You need to determine if people don’t understand why a decision was made or find out if the way you delivered your decision was flawed. A review of the emotional reactions that decisions often evoke is seldom made before the decision is delivered.

Let’s deal with the emotions first. Employee survey after employee is the connected feeling employees get when they understand what’s going on in their organization. If you need convincing, walk through a workplace after a news item that reveals a change in their organization appears in the media. Nothing makes people feel more like pawns in a grand chess game than being blindsided by company information from a source outside the organization. Trust me, no matter how logical the decision might have been or how practical the change is, when a decision or a change is announced in this fashion, people react badly, and the organization suffers. Hearing things from the newspaper is an extreme example, but many big decisions are delivered to employees without a well-thought-out internal communication plan, and most day-to-day decisions are delivered without any explanations at all. Underestimating the emotional reaction to a decision, based on its mode of delivery, is risky business.

How about the content of the decision? When leaders take the time to do a good job explaining their decisions, they have accepted the critical leader role of educator. No one in their right mind would empower a young teenager to jump into a car and drive alone before survey reports that one of the greatest motivators in the workplace they were properly trained, had plenty of practice, and had passed the test. Yet very few of the organizations that preach empowerment take the necessary steps to make sure their people have a broad understanding of how their organization works, establish levels of learning that correspond to levels of decision-making authority, and deliver a constant stream of usable feedback for all employees. A leader who helps people understand the process behind a decision is educating them for the time when they will have to make decisions on their own.