Life seems to revolve around decisions doesn’t it? Sometimes millions (at least that what it feels like) of them have to be resolved daily. Because we are smart, we make most decisions habitually. We build those habits so most decisions seem almost unconscious. Think about your morning routine, your drive to work, what you watch on television, who you interact with, and I think you’ll find that our habits drive our behavior and decision making - all so we don’t have to engage in that time consuming and difficult process of THINKING!
But proper decision making does require us to think, so now what? How do you teach the people in your organization to make thoughtful, well-grounded decisions that move the organization forward? Well, I’m going to give you 3 things to do to help you with that process, but allow me to preface it with this little piece of advice: Don’t wait to implement these tips! They should be done on a regular basis from DAY 1. 1. Teach the rules and regulations of your organization so your people know what is required, where their boundaries are “negotiable” and when they are firm as well as what will bring reward and what will bring discipline.
It is useless to encourage “thinking outside the box” unless it’s clear what’s in the box and more importantly, why it’s in the box. If you can’t explain any rule or regulation as well as the reason behind it, so it’s easy to understand, then modify or eliminate it. It’s vitally important to gain that understanding as any disciplinary action will always be tied to the rules and regulations and if there is confusion or uncertainty about them, then the discipline (which should always be growth oriented) will be seen as punishment (which is rarely growth oriented). 2. Teach the values of the organization as well as the order of importance of each of them. In order to encourage good decision making, your people need help when more than one value is involved. Is safety more important than saving money? Are customers more important than job deadlines? Is finishing reports more important than patient care? Every organization is unique and has its own set of values as well as its own importance attached to each value. That is the critical part of teaching the values. Which one is most important when they may come into conflict with each other? 3. Employ Situational Training on a regular basis. To say that we believe in training that challenges and forces your people to think critically is an understatement. We have conducted enough training sessions to know that people get excited when they are engaged, when they have a chance at success and when they can feel and see growth. That’s what situational training addresses. Find out where your people struggle, what causes them the most stress, and create those “conflict of values” and “knowledge of the rules” situations so you can teach your people to be problem solvers not problem creators. There’s magic here, not in the words or the tips, but in the implementation of them. Don’t tell your people to learn the rules on their own, teach them. Don’t allow your people to figure out the values on their own, train them. And finally, show them that you care about them by challenging them to think critically. It’s what leadership does.