Wouldn’t It Be Better if I Made the Management Decision Myself?
Well, depends on what you mean by ‘better.’ Faster? Yes. More efficient? Yes. More effective? Hmm—maybe not.
In all the areas under your authority, you have the right to make decisions, with or without employee input. And if there are compelling operational reasons (e.g. certain skills must be available, etc.), it’s probably appropriate to do so. Similarly, relatively trivial decisions don’t need employee input. But be careful here. Decisions like holidays, although in the grand scheme of things, trivial, are not seen so by employees. Re-arranging office space, replacing office furniture, and other housekeeping items which affect the employees’ personal space or degrees of freedom will not be seen as unimportant.
Why can’t I make the decision myself?
Again, you are within your rights to do so. And often that is the way to go. But sometimes it is better to take the admittedly more time-consuming approach of consulting employees. When does it make sense to do that? Beyond decisions which get employees where they live, there are:
- When employees can choose how well they implement a decision. Some managers (particularly senior ones) have the charming belief that once they say, “Make it so,” it is so. Newsflash: if employees can choose how well or even whether they implement your decision, getting them onside rather than ordering them will up the chances that it will be executed at the coalface.
- When some employees are bound to be disappointed. Often, it’s not possible to make a decision everyone is happy with. But sometimes, employees aren’t aware of the different views which you must juggle. If you consult them, they can hear the opposing views firsthand and will probably be less disgruntled if the decision doesn’t go their way. They might even be gruntled if they feel their opinions have been heard and the decision was clearly made fairly.
- When the issue is complex and needs multiple viewpoints. There are many decisions which are complex because every option has a serious downside or there isn’t a ‘right’ decision or there are many competing interests. This can be a time to put many heads together.
What are the downsides of making the decision myself?
Might be none and, as I said, it will be the right way to go on many occasions. But there are some downsides:
- False efficiency. Say you make the decision yourself and are happy to get it off your plate. But three months later, the decision hasn’t been implemented or done poorly. If it’s important, you have to start the implementation again. So this decision ends up being neither efficient nor effective.
- Impression of favoritism. With a solo decision, those who don’t agree will be at your door, explaining why they need dispensation because of their special circumstances. If you agree, it may be perceived either as favoritism or indecision. If you hold fast, those pleading will be convinced of your hardheartedness.
- Impression of secrecy. If you consistently make decisions on your own, employees will start to believe you have a hidden agenda and make all kinds of assumptions (in it for yourself, brown-nosing the bosses, etc.) which, even if untrue, will eventually poison the well of collegiality.
In summary, sometimes it is both efficient and effective to make the decision yourself. Other times, it is worth taking consulting employees to save time and morale in the longer term.