It is the same in ministry or business. There are a a predictable number of barriers that staff can face in making even routine decisions that disempower them, and make it difficult to make timely and good decisions. Wise leaders do all that they can to remove these barriers for the sake of their staff and the organization as a whole.

1. Not having the organizational clarity needed to know on what basis I can make a decision. Because organizational clarity defines who we are, where we are going and the non-negotiables, it gives me a framework with which to make good decisions. In its absence I can only guess.

2. Not having clear boundaries from my leader as to what I can decide and what needs upward clearance. This is a leadership issue but when there is not clarity on "decision making authority" staff must by definition either ask permission or forgiveness.

3. A culture of blame when something goes wrong. In such cultures, staff members are reluctant to make decisions for fear that if it goes wrong, they will take the heat. So the ubiquitous CYA attitude that pervades many organizations to their detriment.

4. A culture of control that insists that all decisions are cleared by the senior leader or his/her designate. Control comes from a lack of trust in those who work for you to make their own good decisions. It becomes a huge bottleneck to forward progress and disempowers good staff. This will always plateau an organization because it is not a scaleable process.

5. Bureaucracy that requires decisions to be made multiple times at multiple levels. It is the difference between General Motors and Toyota in terms of how they operated over the years. Bureaucracy is a means of trying to control in the absence of clarity by getting multiple parties and levels involved even in routine decision making.

This is all about what it means to empower others. They will often do things differently than we would but if it gets us to the same destination, what is the difference. The greater clarity your organization has the easier it is for good staff to make decisions based on that common clarity. And to avoid decisions that would violate the culture and ethos of the organization. 

Removing barriers to good and timely decisions is a critical factor in a growing organization. If you want to know that barriers there actually are, just ask your staff. We might learn something.

  • May 28, 2013
  • Category: News
  • Comments: 0
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