The Advisor’s Corner – How Do I Establish a Decision-Making Protocol?

How Do I Establish a Decision-Making Protocol?Question:

What can we do to clean up decision-making habits in my workplace? No one seems to know who is making which decisions and it’s driving us all crazy!

StrategyDriven Response: (by Roxi Hewertson, StrategyDriven Principal Contributor)

Leaders get into trouble far too often simply because they don’t have good decision-making protocols in place on their team or in their business. If a decision matters to you, then make your decision matter!

Here are several all too common scenarios:

  • People keep wondering, “Who is making the decision about…?” and feel they are powerless to do anything in the meantime.
  • Someone comes up to you and says, “Why didn’t anyone tell me about that decision; it impacts my work?”
  • Another person says, “Well, if she’d already made the decision, why did she ask me my opinion?”
  • You hear, “When will he decide – he’s holding up everything at my end!”

There is such a simple way to prevent these and many other ‘dropped balls’ from happening in your workplace. Once you get in the habit of asking these 5 questions of yourself and/or your team, each and every time, you’ll find it could take as few as 60 seconds to get to the answers. Even better, it will save you and others frustration, confusion, hard feelings, lost time and lost profits. Best yet, you’ll gain more respect from those you lead because they can trust you to make decisions well.

5 Key Decision Making Questions

1. WHAT IS THE DECISION that needs to be made? BE EXPLICIT including who and what will be impacted. You need to know exactly what is to be decided. There are often layers of related decisions that need to be made – that’s why you need to start here. When you can clearly articulate the decision, you know what it is – and when you can’t, you don’t. So begin with a lot of clarity.

2. WHOSE DECISION IS IT? Again, you must BE EXPLICIT. This is essential to know and communicate upfront to the people who are impacted. Are you the decision maker? Is it a group? Do you want input or do you want others to make the decision? I’ve often observed that more anxiety is created by not knowing who is making a decision than even the decision itself. And, people lose trust if you pretend their input matters when you’ve already made the decision.

3. WHAT METHOD will you use to decide? Will this be a consensus decision everyone must be able to live with and support? Is it a majority, a plurality, or 2/3 vote, a unanimous agreement, or something else?

4. WHEN WILL THE DECISION BE MADE? The timeline is important for you and other people who are impacted. With a timeline, the decision can be managed well and people can get on with their work. Taking too long or not long enough can be frustrating and create unintended and even dysfunctional outcomes.

5. HOW AND TO WHOM WILL THE DECISION BE COMMUNICATED? This is often overlooked, and yet the success of a decision depends so much on how well it’s communicated. Consider who needs to know, who’s the messenger, how it will be shared, and through what means – in person, by email, over a loud speaker…Often the choice of messenger sends a message all it’s own – is it you, a team, your boss, someone else? The message will be perceived differently depending on the messenger.

It takes a lot of time and energy and sometimes money, to clean up the messes that happen when your decision-making is reactive or ad hoc. I really hope you will make it a point to be proactive in your decision-making because it’s a lot more fun when you are running your life and work instead of letting life and work run you.


About the Author

Leadership authority Roxana (Roxi) Hewertson is a no-nonsense business veteran revered for her nuts-and-bolts, tell-it-like-it-is approach and practical, out-of-the-box insights that help both emerging and expert managers, executives and owners boost quantifiable job performance in various mission critical facets of business. Through AskRoxi.com, Roxi — “the Dear Abby of Leadership” — imparts invaluable free advice to managers and leaders at all levels, from the bullpen to the boardroom, to help them solve problems, become more effective and realize a higher measure of business and career success.


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