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Decisions, Decisions

make_a_decision“Tom I really think that when there is a technical decision to be made, it makes perfects sense for you to delegate the decision to Simon. After all he is our technical lead.” Marilyn chimed in, “I agree with Jacob. I think the trick is that you need to make it clear that you trust Simon to make the call.”

Tom was once again meeting with Jacob his business analyst and Marilyn his subject matter expert. In a prior meeting they had told Tom (their project manager) that his decision making style was not effective. Now they were working with Tom to discuss the different approaches Tom could use to lead the project team in decision making.

Truthfully Tom had not felt completely confident about his role in team decisions. He was the project manager, but he worked in an environment where he had responsibility but little authority. He always found this to be challenging. He felt fortunate to have team members like Jacob and Marilyn, both of whom were knowledgeable and helpful.

“Tom, it will not take much for you to get on the right track. The team likes you and they will respond to you when you take the lead”, said Jacob. Then Jacob and Marilyn proceed to give Tom some steps to take to improve his approach to decision making:

1. When a question or an issue arises and a decision needs to be reached, determine if this is the proper time to make the decision.
2. If now is the time, state what it is that needs to be resolved or decided. If not, do not let the issue go, record it and make sure the right people are assigned to follow up so that a decision can be made as soon as possible.
3. Select a decision making approach.

  • Consider using delegation when you do not need to be involved and when a subset of the team can be trusted to make the decision.
  • Consider using consensus when it makes sense for the whole team to weigh-in.
  • Consider using voting if the issue is easily understood and a simple majority is enough to make the decision. This works if you can do it without making people feel like adversaries and without creating ‘winners’ and ‘losers’.
  • Sometimes you need to make the call. Do not be afraid to be the one who makes the decision, your team needs to see you make decisions.

4. Tell the team how the decision will be reached.
5. Use the agreed upon approach to reach a decision.
6. Communicate the decision to all the appropriate parties.

After listening to Jacob and Marilyn, Tom agreed with them, it was not going to take too much for him to improve his decision making style. He had already decided to be a success!

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