3 Steps to Much Better Team Decisions

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How do you help your team make better decisions?

It starts by understanding that there is no such thing as a team decision.

Every decision made in your church or organization must have someone’s name written next to it. Someone must own the outcome. Someone must pace around their office thinking through every ramification and potential hurdle.

In his Harvard Business Review blog post, If You Think Your Team Makes Decisions, Think Again, Bob Frisch wrote, “Executive teams may discuss issues, debate courses of action, and even give their stamps of approval, but they actually don’t decide anything of moment as a group… It is the leader, not the group, who ultimately allows that particular decision to go through.”

For this understanding to gain traction there are 3 important steps you must take;

1.   Clarify roles and responsibilities at the outset.
Instead of saying, “Team, we have a decision to make today,” it should be, “Team, I have a decision to make today, (or “Susan has a decision to make today”) and your help is required.”

2.   Set the decision-maker up for success.
If you have given Susan the responsibility for a decision, you must also confer on her the authority to make that decision. Let the team know that it’s her call. And it’s her responsibility to ensure its success.

3.   Coach the team in how to support the decision.
Individual members of the team may, or may not, agree with the decision reached by you or Susan. Your job becomes coaching the team on how to support that decision even when they disagree.

One of the key members of our team will regularly consult with me when I’ve made a tough decision. If he doesn’t agree with me he will always say, “Scott, I see this differently. But I will support you 100%.”

That’s where you need to get your team.

Always make sure that every decision has a name written next to it.
Always make sure it is clear who has the responsibility and authority to make a call.
Always strive to coach your team toward honest feedback and support of decisions made.

The result will be tremendous traction for the entire organization.

How do you leverage your team in the decision making process?

the author

Scott Cochrane

3 comments

  1. Excellent post Scott. Sadly, there are a lot of “team” decisions being made out there. I’m glad you’ve addressed this.
    For the “someone who must own the outcome”, it’s also a good opportunity to practice Level-5 Leadership, as Jim Collins points out in his book, Good to Great. Where level-5 leaders, when realizing a successful decision, will look out the window – to credit others; and when decisions don’t go according to plan they look in the mirror – to accept the responsibility.

  2. To each point you’ve made Glen, “Yes”, “yes”, and “yes”!

    A ‘team decision’ really feels good. But when it goes south it’s odd that no one remembers feeling any accountability for it!

    But I like what you’ve added, that this is when the leader needs to ‘own it’.

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