“I think collaboration can be a good idea and I probably should involve others more in decision-making. But it really slows things down. I can’t involve people in every little detail or we’ll never get anything done around here,” Jim remarked, waiting for my response.
Jim’s natural style was just do it and until recently it had paid off. Now he had gotten feedback he was too much of a Lone Ranger.
Jim was right – you shouldn’t have to compromise on delivering results, and it is a bad idea to involve people in every little detail. Jim needed some guidelines to help him adjust his natural tendencies without going overboard.
Three guidelines to determine when to involve others in decisions:
- Buy-in: Do you need buy-in to implement the decision? If others will need to implement this decision, it’s best to involve them early on. The more people are involved, the better they understand the issues and the stronger they are committed to the decision – which ensures faster and more effective implementation. Seeking their input before you make the decision helps. But inviting them to actually participate in the decision-making process creates stronger buy-in and also builds their leadership capabilities for the future.
- Information: Do you have all the information you need? Do you have enough expertise on the topic to make an intelligent decision on your own? One danger with complex situations is you might not know what you don’t know.
- Impact: How important is the decision?
- If this is about office supplies, don’t waste your time. Delegate it or do it yourself.
- If the impact is high and buy-in is needed, collaborate. Make the decision with your team. Involve those who will be impacted by the decision. You need the good thinking of all as well as their commitment.
- If buy-in is not needed but it is high impact, test your thinking with others to make sure you’re on track. They might see something you’re not aware of.
What About Urgency?
Urgency is not listed because too often it is used as an excuse for making unilateral decisions. Obviously if the fire alarm is ringing and the building is filled with smoke, you shouldn’t call a team meeting to discuss it. However, sometimes when you see smoke, there’s more time than you think. Not everything is as urgent as it seems. One of the principles of managing change is from “The Lesson of the Tortoise and the Hare” – going slow in the beginning can help you get farther faster.