Your Decision or Mine?

What is on the top of my mind today is decision making.

Even more specifically is the decision to allow someone to make a decision.  Just to be clear, I’m not talking about choosing whether I want Ford vehicles for my service trucks or Chevy vehicles.  I’m talking about the decision to allow some else the authority to choose whether they are Ford, Chevy or some other make.

The situation goes like this.

I instruct an employee to buy new service vehicles for his department and provide a budget.  He has all but completed the process when I discover he has selected trucks that I don’t like.  Maybe they are too much like a competitor, I’ve had a bad personal experience with one, or I was hoping to provide some business to a different auto dealership.  Whatever the case, I’m now ready to jump in the middle of a decision an employee made, despite the fact they exactly fulfilled my instructions.

This situation arises many times in most organizations and is mostly unseen to the management.  I have recently caught myself in this predicament and am now acutely aware of it and have determined two critical problems this situation causes that can be avoided.

  1. Most obviously, the employee has been completely undermined. Sure, they will be obliging when you jump in and change their decision. Most employees will not complain. But what you need to think about is the next time you give them the authority to make a decision. At best, they will give a half effort. Why try hard if the boss will always come in and change whatever decision they have made?
  2. Your own authority has been undermined. You gave something away and then took it back. The next time you try to give something away, the recipient will always be curious about how soon you will be taking it back. Your entire staff will never feel as if you gave them anything. In their opinion, sooner or later you will be coming around to take back whatever you gave them. The Bible is all about authority. Look at God’s authority from a business perspective. He made a deal with the Israelites and, although the Israelites did not fulfill their part of the deal, God never took whatever He gave to the Israelites back.

Which leads us to a lesson, God let the Israelites fail, yet He continually supported, advised and warned them.

When you give someone, and this includes everyone – wife, daughter, neighbor employee – the authority to make a decision, the decision becomes theirs to make, good or bad.   As long as they make the decision within the limitation that you provide, they own it.  And how that decision turns out will be one of the most powerful learning and motivational opportunities you will ever have.

If the employee makes a great decision, they become empowered to lead and make future decisions.  If the employee makes a bad decision, you get the opportunity to teach decision making tools and build a stronger employee.

Jeremiah 8:4 says.

“Thus says the Lord: When men fall, do they not rise again?     If one turns away, does he not return?”

We have all heard the adage that failure is part of success.  Please so not take back the decision-making process to protect our employees from failure.

Where else will they learn success?

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