The Website and Blog of HR Author and Speaker Lori Kleiman

What is the next decision you need to make?

this way, that way

An integral part of every business person’s life is making decisions. Some are big decisions: “Should we buy that piece of equipment or go into the new territory?” And some are more mundane: “Do we retain the current snow removal service (yes…that’s coming soon!) or look for a new one?” If you think about your day, you likely find that you are making one decision after another in rapid succession.

Each person tends to have a decision-making “DNA.” Some of us love to consider data and ponder all the alternations – others go from the gut and pull the trigger quickly. Leaders have different styles of how they engage their team as well. Some like to generate interest and buy-in from their executive team before making any decision that will impact the organization, others prefer do what they are sure is right.

In Malcom Gladwell’s book Blink, he talks about the value of “going with your gut.” While data gathering is a necessary component in all decision making, Gladwell points to the success – and failures – of going with your gut. There are times that leaders and their teams can get into “analysis paralysis” causing them to miss opportunities that may only exist for a short period of time.

Decision-making must be a core competency of management. There is no right or wrong way to make decisions, the process must work for you and the culture of your organization. Consider the various styles of decision-making:

  • Democratic – Leader gives up ownership and allows the group to vote.
  • Autocratic – Leader maintains total control over the situation.
  • Collective – Leader gathers information from others, but ultimately retains control.
  • Consensus – The complete group is responsible for the outcome and the leader gives up all control.

Your decision making style will impact – or be driven by – you leadership philosophy and the culture of the organization. A full explanation of each decision-making style can be found here. It is also important to understand the decision making style of others on your team. If members approach an issue in two different way you can have conflict over the way the decision will be made.

Let’s use these four styles to consider selecting a candidate for an open position. An autocratic style could lead to hiring a team member that others are not invested in and will not help integrate into your organization quickly. A democratic model might lead to a situation where the vote of the group does not select the candidate that the manager feels would be most successful. In the consensus model, you will likely end up with a candidate that everyone wants to be with – but has no direct linkage to being the best candidate to meet the expectations of management. I would suggest that the collective model is best in recruiting – allow members of the team to meet the candidate and provide opinions, but ultimately the decision is up to the hiring manager.

As a leader, consider moving through the various types of decision-making models based on the situation. The decision of when and where to have a company outing would be an excellent way to involve your team and allow for a consensus-based decision. Determining which banking relationship will return the best financial outcome for the organization however is likely to be best served with an autocratic decision between you and your CFO.

In the end – the responsibility for moving the organization and/or HR function still rests on your shoulder, so make the decision that you are confident in!

Photo by Lori Greig used under the following license.