Making Decisions on Teams
What are we doing? Why are we doing it? What are the implications? Who's signing up for what? When will everything get done? These are some of the questions teams have to answer when making decisions. A team's success or failure depends a great deal on the quality of decisions made as a group and the follow-through on those decisions.
What stops teams from making good decisions? Many factors have to do with the strength of the team's foundation and how well the team functions as a group. But the decision process itself is key, even if the group has a solid foundation and is well functioning.
Points of failure in decision making on teams
- Decision to be made isn't clear.
- The end result is not defined.
- Stakeholder and impact analysis isn't done.
- Follow-through, including a plan to get
stakeholders on board, not clearly outlined.
- Follow-up slow or absent.
1. Make the decision clear. Define the decision to be made by asking several of these questions: What problem are we trying to solve? What's the issue we need to address? How do we know this is the right problem/issue? What's the evidence? Do we have enough (of the right) data to make the decision? What other information is needed before the decision can be made?
2. Know what you want to achieve with this decision. Once you agree on the decision to be made, ask, What's the end result we hope this decision will achieve? or What are we hoping to accomplish with this decision? Answering either of these questions helps indicate what the later follow-through actions will be.
3. Know your stakeholders. Who are the stakeholders? Stakeholders are individuals and groups directly affected by the decision who can forward or impede decision implementation. Also includes anyone who has the power to veto the decision. What's required of these stakeholders? Is it (1) Buy-in only -- no action needed from them, (2) Support only -- little action required to help realize the end result, or (3) Hands-on work required to make this happen?
4. Understand the impact the decision has on your stakeholders. When you understand the impact, you are better able to influence positive support as well as manage resistance when it arises. Be on the lookout for opposition. Opposition has many forms. Your stakeholders may:
- Simply want to feel good about the outcome. If you understand their concerns, and your plan is reasonable, they'll be satisfied.
- Have concern about losing, for example, control, power, status, resources. By agreeing to what you're asking, they perceive they will lose. Their need is to maintain what they have if they agree to what you're asking.
- Have concern about risk. What you are asking carries a high risk to them or their organization. If they fail, the consequences are unpleasant. Their need is to look good and avoid negative consequences.
- Want to look good to the VIPs in the organization. If what you're asking helps them do that, fine. If not, no support.
- Not feel confident that you can or will follow through on commitments you make. And if you don't follow through, they will look bad. Again, their need is to look good, not bad.
- Lack trust in you or the organization you represent. And if they can't trust you, how will they be guaranteed that you have their interests in mind and the agreement will be carried out?
- Not know you well enough to have respect for your work or your word. ? Have a specific hidden agenda that must remain secret.
- Sound business reasons.
5. Make next steps explicit. Decide the next steps by answering these questions. Who's doing what and by when? What are the priorities -- in other words, who needs to do what first?
6. Have a follow-through plan. Have a sound follow-through/follow-up process in place for those who are taking the next steps. To do that, decide (1) What's the process for keeping the team informed on progress and problems on deliverables? (2) What about the times when people don't deliver on their commitments? What are the possible ways the team will deal with that?
(c) 2009 Denise Brouillette, San Francisco, CA. All Rights Reserved. This article may not be downloaded, photocopied, reprinted, or distributed electronically or by any other means without this paragraph accompanying it. www.LeaderXpress.com