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.


The StrategyDriven website was created to provide members of our community with insights to the actions that help create the shared vision, focus, and commitment needed to improve organizational alignment and accountability for the achievement of superior results. We look forward to answering your strategic planning and tactical business execution questions. Please email your questions to [email protected].

The Advisor’s Corner – How Should I Address Sensitive Subjects With My Staff?

How Should I Address Sensitive Subjects With My Staff?Question:

How can I navigate ‘touchy’ subjects with my staff?

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

If you read no further, remember this – it is a fact that “the truth will set you free!” What is also a fact is, HOW you share your truth matters as much or more than WHAT you share. Some of the hardest things leaders have to do are deal with delicate employee relation’s issues and/or tough business realities that impact their people. Most leaders are ill equipped, and have had very little, if any, training or good experience in this area.

Workplace issues with employees show up because people are messy and groups are messy. Deep down, leaders know this is reality. It’s not as simple as, “Why can’t everyone just be happy, do their job, and get along?” Right? Life isn’t that simple for any of us. There are effective ways to navigate your people and organization to a better place in tough times.

The answer to preventing and/or resolving delicate employee or business issues begins with creating the culture you want within your business, hiring well in the first place, leading people effectively, and finally managing performance consistently.

The leader sets the expectations and tone, and must hold all staff accountable, including herself or himself. All leaders within the organization have a big impact on everything, everyday. This means no individual who holds a leadership role is off the hook.

Here are four guidelines for navigating sensitive issues with employees:

  1. Don’t assume anything or react immediately – check out all the facts, just like you would expect from a good audit or quality assurance assessment. Make sure you are confident in your conclusions.
  2. Utilize Constructive Feedback skills and methods. The kindest thing you can do for an employee is tell the TRUTH – RESPECTFULLY. Make sure your motivations are positive and convey your positive intent in helping them.
  3. Resolve conflicts as soon as possible. Don’t hope they will go away – they rarely do. A large percentage of conflicts arise from miscommunication, lack of clarity of expectations or both.
  4. Demonstrate empathy –try hard to walk a mile in his or her shoes before you say anything you might regret. This means LISTEN deeply.

If the tough situation is something like layoffs or cost cutting, and you aren’t even sure about the end game, the people who work for you still deserve to know as much as you are able to share.

Transparency – transparency – transparency! In a small or even mid-sized office, everyone can smell trouble. There is no hiding it. Most people fill in the blank spaces with bad news, not good news. Rumors start, and those are often worse than reality. This is toxic for any group and will hurt your customers as well.

Since you can’t hide it, tell the truth. Rather than losing sleep over how people will respond, tell them what you know and tell them what you don’t know and tell them what you can’t tell them and why. Then manage the emotions by allowing their voice to be heard and engage in solutions as much as they can.

As you consider how to help your people work things out or when you must share tough news, consider these 2 RULES:

  1. The Golden Rule is about fairness – how YOU would like to be treated.
  2. The Platinum Rule is about empathy – how HE/SHE wants to be treated, considering what they need, not just what do you need.

By keeping these two rules smack in the front of your mind as you embark on tough conversations of any kind will help you navigate them, and help you sleep at night.


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.


The StrategyDriven website was created to provide members of our community with insights to the actions that help create the shared vision, focus, and commitment needed to improve organizational alignment and accountability for the achievement of superior results. We look forward to answering your strategic planning and tactical business execution questions. Please email your questions to [email protected].

The Advisor’s Corner – How Should I, as a Leader, Communicate?

How Should I, as a Leader, Communicate?Question:

Everyone talks about communication being a problem in our company. As a leader, what am I supposed to do about it?

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

A recent Development Dimensions International study, Driving Workplace Performance through High-Quality Conversations: What leaders must do every day to be effective, reminds us in no uncertain terms, that leaders, peers and direct reports need to hold more effective conversations at work to receive more effective business performance.

Technology gets a lot of the blame for the continued degradation of communication skills among leaders over the past two decades. But technology, like any tool, can be used in positive or negative ways. What really matters is how we choose to communicate and how we choose to use our tools. Technology works well for:

  • Sharing information,
  • Setting up meetings,
  • Keeping records

But it does not work well when:

  • We need to have a dialogue and a conversation,
  • We copy the world to cover our bases or boost our egos,
  • There is emotion involved

Since communication norms are deeply woven into the fabric of every organization’s culture, this challenge starts with the CEO and involves all his or her leaders. The DDI study validates how important emotional intelligence competencies, particularly self-awareness and social skills are in human interactions.

Everything we do happens through our relationships – at work and outside of work. When communication is poor or stops, the relationship is poor or stops. In the DDI study, the authors point out that senior leaders have not mastered these communication skills any better than less senior leaders, even though they have been at it longer. To me this strongly indicates we think we are communicating well when we simply… are not.

Take a few moments over the next several days to see if you notice any of these poor interaction habits in yourself and/or leaders you know:

  • Jumping to task before understanding the full picture.
    One solution: Take the time to gather information and listen carefully.
  • Unskilled at, or choosing not to have, effective conversations.
    One solution: Learn this skill or get out of leadership.
  • Failing to engage others in decisions that impact them.
    One solution: Ask yourself, “Who is impacted by this decisions?” Then, engage those people in the process.
  • Failing to demonstrate authentic empathy.
    One solution: Slow down and truly put yourself in another person’s shoes. What might it be like to be him or her right now? Don’t know? Ask.
  • Ego and personal agenda driven.
    One solution: Ask yourself, “Do I really need to be or prove I am right? Or do I want my team to succeed no matter whose idea it is?”
  • Unable to facilitate a productive meeting or discussion.
    One solution: Learn these skills and/or engage skilled facilitators to help you.

The systemic, long-term solution to improving interaction and communication skills in your organization is to make it MATTER. It’s quite simple to do…

What you reward is what you will get. What you don’t reward, you will get much less often.

Leaders generally know what a good conversation looks like. Knowing is the easy part. Doing is the hard part. The leader’s number ONE responsibility is to create and nurture a culture that will bring out the best in their people. Those choices and priorities will roll downhill. This is particularly true for the behaviors we model for our direct reports – all the way from the C-Suite to the front line.

At the end of the day, when we are not truly listening, we are not leading. Period.


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.


The StrategyDriven website was created to provide members of our community with insights to the actions that help create the shared vision, focus, and commitment needed to improve organizational alignment and accountability for the achievement of superior results. We look forward to answering your strategic planning and tactical business execution questions. Please email your questions to [email protected].

The Advisor’s Corner – How Do I Lead Those Older Than Me?

How Do I Lead Those Older Than Me?Question:

How do I lead direct reports who are quite a bit older than me?

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

Indeed, the chances of leading people senior in age and experience to you are quite high given the delayed retirements and demographics we see today. This is not a bad thing; in fact, if you are good leader, you will welcome the diversity in perspective, experience, and wisdom you can utilize from within your team. In my career I rarely held a leadership role without managing people older than me, until I became the older one! There are a few key things to keep in mind to get the best from your more senior staff.

Everything we do happens through our relationships, and how we behave impacts each of those relationships. When you create a trusting, respectful relationship with your staff, you will reap the rewards over and over again. It’s also about the conversation.

You already have the ‘authority’ if you’re the boss, and frankly, if you pull the “I’m the boss” card out more than 10% of the time, and even then, only when there is no other way to get something essential to happen, you are blowing it. Just like anyone else, you have to earn respect and trust… it doesn’t come with your title. If you are feeling insecure, uncertain, and less than adequate as you carry out your role, do whatever you need to do to learn enough to feel confident. Take classes, read… and oh, by the way, your greatest teachers might just be on your staff. Welcome their wisdom and make sure they know how much you appreciate it and them.

Here are 5 things you can do that will signal you are listening and respecting – and they apply to ANY of your staff:

  1. Be EXPLICIT about your expectations, how you will measure success, and then acknowledge their performance – whether good or not so good.
  2. ASK far more than you tell. LISTEN to your people, ask them what they know, want, feel, and need.
  3. Remove the word “but” from most of your conversations – say “and” instead or end the first sentence with a period and start a new one. When people hear “but” they don’t believe anything you said before it.
  4. Say “We” 10 times more often than “I”, including in your emails.
  5. Do not say “No” first. At least listen and say what more you need or agree that you’ll at least think about it.

The fundamentals of building a highly effective team come into play here, no matter the demographics or personalities. When you know how to create safety, trust, and group synergy, you will engage everyone on your team and get the most of their talent. So ask yourself – do you know where you want to take your team? Have you made time to get to know each of your people, what motivates them, and what they love or don’t love about their jobs? Have you asked for their wisdom, letting them know the team can only succeed with everyone contributing? Have you honored their contributions?

Bottom line – every individual has a story, a whole life, and is motivated by different things. When you build a trusting relationship and establish you truly care about that person, their wisdom, and their contributions, you will get a boatload of help, respect, and you may just learn a thing or two along the way!


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.


The StrategyDriven website was created to provide members of our community with insights to the actions that help create the shared vision, focus, and commitment needed to improve organizational alignment and accountability for the achievement of superior results. We look forward to answering your strategic planning and tactical business execution questions. Please email your questions to [email protected].

The Advisor’s Corner – How Do I Deal with a Calendar Full of Meetings?

How Do I Deal with a Calendar Full of Meetings?Question:

How do I deal with a calendar full of meetings that are wasting my time?

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

I love meetings… when and only when they produce something useful. When they don’t, I stop going. Seriously, I gave up useless meetings just like I gave up greasy food, cold turkey, so to speak!

Dave Barry once said, “If you had to identify, in one word, the reason why the human race has not achieved, and never will achieve, its full potential, that word would be ‘meetings’.” Well, lousy meetings anyway.

Indeed, there are great meetings and important ones I’d never want to miss. People need to congregate and exchanges things. We need to network, learn, collaborate, decide, discuss, chew on ideas, mind-meld, team-build, brainstorm and have fun together. There are plenty of fabulous reasons why people should have meetings, gatherings, and get togethers.

Yet, we have a serious meeting epidemic in this country. This is not my opinion; it’s a fact. Smart people study this stuff, and the reality is, we have been meeting for more hours each and every year since they started keeping track back in the 1950’s. It’s a bit like global warming – it creeps up on you and before you know it, your life is one big meeting desert or tsunami or both, at the same time, in the same meeting!

Email didn’t fix it. Whiz-bang meeting software didn’t fix it. Today, you can just throw on a t-shirt, sit at your computer, and be in a meeting with virtually anyone, anywhere, anytime. Yes, it’s a short commute, and convenient, but now instead of commuting, you are simply in another meeting. How’s that working for you?

There is a whole planet full of people suffering from bad meetings. You’d think it was contagious. Well, you’d be right. The way meetings are run in your organization IS a result of your internal culture, meeting protocols, and the meeting skills of the person running them. Every new person coming into the system generally conforms to those norms. So… ask yourself, “How healthy and productive is the meeting virus I am passing around?”

For those meetings you attend but don’t run, remember, it’s YOUR calendar. So take control of it. The next time you are about to agree to a meeting, try asking yourself these 5 questions:

  1. WHY are we having this meeting; what is the goal; what are the deliverables?
  2. WHOSE meeting is it?
  3. WHAT kind of a meeting do we need to have? In person, on the phone, virtual, standing up, off-site, formal, informal, etcetera.
  4. WHO should be there? Why?
  5. WHAT are our meeting ‘norms,’ and do I like them? If not, why am I going to this meeting and/or what am I going to do about it?

Once you decide, yes, you need a meeting, you need a purpose and an agenda. Every item on your agenda should have one of three purposes or a combination of them or it shouldn’t be there at all.

Information – Discussion -­ Decision

Information: no more than 20% of any meeting should be spent on information sharing – there are plenty of other and cheaper ways to share information other than meeting time.

Discussion: means getting input and ideas, hearing from the people in the group. Make sure you have a method to do that well.

Decision-making: use best practices and ask all the important questions when a decision needs to be made

Take control of your life and work by taking control of the time you spend in meetings that don’t matter, and making the time you do spend in meetings an investment that DOES matter.


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.


The StrategyDriven website was created to provide members of our community with insights to the actions that help create the shared vision, focus, and commitment needed to improve organizational alignment and accountability for the achievement of superior results. We look forward to answering your strategic planning and tactical business execution questions. Please email your questions to [email protected].