Making Tough Decisions as a Boss. Part 2 of 2

June 25, 2018

Making Tough Decisions as a Boss. Part 2 of 2decisions

You (Galen) have to re-allocate your budget to fund a new service which allows customers to design their own greeting cards. You will have to take money from the budgets of the other supervisors (Sarah and Neil), to reallocate to Mike who will head up the new service. You meet with all the supervisors to discuss how to do this.

The tough discussion

You: Okay, guys, Alicia doesn’t have enough to fund the new service from her budget, so we need to come up with half of the money.  
Sarah: You mean you’re going to cut us? You need to expect protest and let it run for a bit.
Dale: No way, Galen, I’m under-funded as it is.  
You: I’m sorry but we need to do this. But I won’t make the decision until after I’ve heard your views. This is very important to say. In the heat of the moment, they may try to take over the decision.
Dale: Well, why did you pick Mike to begin with? I could have done as good a job. You are paying for the old sin of not choosing Mike in a transparent way.
Sarah: Yeah, give me the project and take the money from the other two.  
Mike: Hey, I got the project—we’re not revisiting that.  
You: Guys, we’re on a tight time-line. We can’t keep revisiting old decisions.  Any ideas on funding? Well, you have to say this but it was your error to begin with.
Dale: Yeah, let Mike get it from his own budget.  
Mike: Hey, I can’t do that!  
You: Lookit, guys, I know this is unpalatable but is the new service good for our company? Focus on the bigger picture.
Mike: Of course. With everyone going digital and individualized, we need to keep up with the market.  
Sarah: But why at our expense? You need to keep pushing this point.
You: Sarah, do you think we need the new service to keep current?  
Sarah: Yeah, but—  
You: And what about you, Dale? Canvas everyone individually.
Dale: I guess so, but Galen—  
You: So we need to find a way to fund it.  
Mike: Yeah, it’s for the good of the company.  
You: Yes, Mike, but Sarah and Dale have to contribute so I want to let them have their say. Recognize they are disadvantaged by this new development.
Dale: Well, it shouldn’t come all from Sarah and me. Mike needs to put up some, too. A suggestion means that, although they don’t like it, they are starting to participate.
Mike: No way! I’m just as under-funded as you are.  
You: We all have to contribute to this, Mike. In fact, I’ll throw in my reserve fund. It’s only 50K but it’ll help. Nice touch, if you can do it, as it signals that you are also willing to sacrifice to help.

The principles of making a tough decision

I’m going to stop now but from here you can start getting down to the nitty-gritty of the financing. This conversation might well go on much longer than I have depicted but the principles are the same:

  • Expect and tolerate some protest
  • Make it clear you will make the decision after hearing their input
  • Don’t revisit old decisions unless it is obvious that the past decision fatally distorts the present one
  • Focus on the bigger picture
  • Ask for suggestions
  • If you can, do something to show that you are willing to share the pain

This is not, by any means, an easy process but undertaking it allows your staff to be heard and ups the chances you end up with a decision everyone can live with even if they’re not crazy about it.

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