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No company can rely on a single person to make decisions. According to a study by McKinsey, managers at a typical Fortune 500 company waste more than 500,000 days a year on ineffective decision-making. The more diverse your team, the better their decisions, so it pays to empower all your team members to make decisions autonomously.
As the CEO of an 8-figure technology company responsible for hitting the KPIs of our publicly traded parent company, I see firsthand the benefits of getting this right. Our unique approach to leadership has led directly to 7-figure annual growth year over year, even during a market downturn.
From the start, my leadership philosophy is that no single person should be burdened with all the decision-making. This can create a bottleneck and limit what your team can accomplish. Instead, it’s vital to create frameworks for decision-making that empower each individual on the team to make consequential decisions while still being accountable to me as a leader.
If you want to increase the efficiency of your teams, read on for my five-step process to take you out of the day-to-day and accelerate your business growth.
Related: 4 Leadership Methods for Empowering Employees and Building Strong Teams
Empowering your team
The key to successful decision-making lies in trust. You need to empower your team members to make decisions while still giving them the guidance and authority they need to do so correctly.
This means that you have to be clear about expectations from the start by setting up an environment where everyone is aligned around a common goal and vision for the company’s growth and development.
One of our main strengths is that we are a small, flexible and agile organization. We have a startup culture where the structure needed to be established from the ground up, and establishing the foundational framework has helped to shape the organization. We don’t have too many layers of bureaucracy, so our team members are able to act on their decisions quickly and efficiently.
Build a system to your company’s method for making decisions, such as “anything under $500 to fix, decide for yourself” or other types of guidelines. This demonstrates that you trust their ability to make decisions and bolsters the team’s trust to carry out their roles and responsibilities.
Without some level of autonomy, decision-making can become bogged down and slow. And that’s the last thing you want regarding business growth.
The great thing about creating frameworks for decision-making is that each team member has a defined role and responsibility. This makes it easier for them to make decisions without worrying about stepping on someone else’s toes.
For example, each member of our sales development team is expected to work on their own initiative to identify potential leads, develop relationships and close deals. This allows everyone on the team to focus on what they do best and act quickly without having to check with me for approval every time. Plus, it also creates a sense of ownership among team members. Everyone feels like they have a stake in the success of the company and are doing their part to contribute.
Establish a balanced combination of servant, situational and adaptive leadership to build your decision frameworks. The focus is on solving problems with innovation. For example, stay involved in the training process upfront for the team to activate around customer acquisition and sales, instead of taking a permanently directive “ivory tower” approach. Once they understand the structure and how you think, each member of the team can take their role and run with it. That way, you understand the intricacies of their day-to-day overall operations and understand every decision the team makes over the long term. This helps to bring everyone together and communicate clearly.
Related: 6 Ways to Encourage Autonomy With Your Employees
Reducing risk and setting boundaries
Of course, that’s not to say you should throw caution to the wind and let your team run wild without oversight.
On the contrary, setting boundaries and managing risk is essential when creating decision-making frameworks for your team. Outline a transparent chain of command so everyone has a sense of who is responsible for what and when. If something goes wrong, each team member knows who to turn to first and who will ultimately be held accountable.
It’s essential that your staff know when they can act independently and when they need to refer a decision up the chain. This gives them a sense of freedom while also providing guidance and structure in their decision-making process.
Setting boundaries for an autonomous team requires trust, effective communication and a commitment to a shared purpose. By providing guidance and structure while respecting their decision-making capabilities, you can create a team that excels while maintaining a healthy level of autonomy.
I provide a clear understanding of the team’s overall goals and objectives. When team members know what KPIs they are working towards, they can make decisions that align with these goals. I also give team members access to relevant information, data and context that can aid in their decision-making process. This enables them to make well-informed choices within the defined boundaries.
Building a culture of trust
The greatest asset of any company is its people; creating an environment of trust is essential for successful decision-making. It starts with communication — keeping your team informed about updates and changes.
Schedule regular daily, weekly or monthly check-ins with the team, formally and informally. This helps you keep abreast of any issues they might face and offer guidance when needed. Consider quarterly strategy meetings to evaluate the progress in relation to the KPIs and highlight any areas of improvement.
Finally, celebrate successes and recognize individual contributions. People need to feel appreciated for their efforts in order to stay motivated. A culture of trust and respect will also encourage open dialogue, feedback and collaboration, which is essential for innovative decision-making.
Related: 4 Ways to Guide Your Employees Toward Empowered Decisions
Build a framework for your success
The key to successful decision-making is a framework that lets your team make powerful decisions while still being accountable for them. Empowering each individual on your team by giving them clear expectations and autonomy is essential in creating an environment of trust.
Ultimately, by creating transparent decision-making frameworks, you can foster an environment of collaboration and innovation that will drive your business growth and success for years to come.
By setting clear expectations, compartmentalizing responsibility, building a culture of trust and managing risk through clear boundaries, you’ll be able to ensure that each team member is making the right decisions, on the right subjects, at the right time, to help your business excel.