I am fascinated by how teams make decisions. Some teams I’ve worked with have wanted all decisions to be made by consensus. Others preferred to have a team lead or unofficial leader have the final say in making their decisions. I’ve also worked with teams that resist any and all decisions coming top-down. This often translates to an inverted top-down decision-making process. In a team like this, managers aren’t allowed to make any decisions or tell anyone what to do.
One of the responsibilities that you as a leader have is to create an environment in which all individuals can contribute to solving problems and making decisions. To do so, you first need to understand your own personal preference, the preferences of the team and individuals in it, and the company’s preference. The root cause of interpersonal conflict in collaborative decision making often comes down to differences in preferred styles, so it’s important to also understand what makes each preference unique.
So how can you discover your preferences? Over the years, I’ve found that asking yourself (and the team) the following 9 questions can help. Try answering the following questions and see what reflections and thoughts come up:.
9 Questions To Discover Your Decision-Making Style
- How do you prefer to make decisions?
- How did your team make their last decision?
- What style of decision making do you perceive the company to favor?
- How do you like to make decisions when there is a tight deadline?
- Who usually comes with the ideas that wind up becoming decisions?
- Whose opinion do you and your team seek before you make any decision?
- Who has the final say in your decisions?
- Where and when are decisions made?
- How do you communicate decisions?
One thing to keep in mind is that a team’s preference can change over time, especially as new members join. What’s more, teams will often adopt different styles depending on the problem they’re trying to solve, how long they have worked together, and their individual relationships. Whenever I join a team I want to understand how they make decisions. I also want to understand if the environment allows different styles or if it favors one specific style.
I’d love to hear what interesting decision-making patterns have you observed in teams you’ve worked with or been a part of. Reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org or share your experiences in the comments section below!