Empowerment Leadership Model for Small Groups, Teams, & Families
Course 5, Lesson 19
Developing Teams That Know How to Make Decisions
and Carry Them out Effectively
Copyright 2001 Dick Wulf
A successful team must be able to make good decisions and then carry them out. This is easier said than done. Often, it is only the making of decisions that is easy.
First of all, the team needs to know that it has the responsibility to make decisions that will contribute to achieving the team purpose. It is the team leader’s job to make sure that the team understands this responsibility. This is best initiated during a discussion of the goals that will lead to accomplishment of the team’s purpose. Goals are decisions, and the team leader can caution the team to make wise decisions regarding each goal and its priority for team resources. Periodic review of goal accomplishment also offers the opportunity for the team leader to remind the team about making and carrying out decisions.
Over time, a team should become better and better at making and implementing decisions. However, at the first, it will probably be necessary for the team leader to keep track of decisions made by the team. The alert team leader will silently regularly review these decisions the team has made to see if they have fallen by the wayside. If so, the team leader must remind the team that it had made a decision that they need to implement or abort.
Teams need to decide how they will make decisions. Will they be simple majority, two-thirds, or consensus? Then teams need to get each team member to agree to treat team decisions as final, even if he or she disagreed. Everyone needs to abide by team decisions.
What if the decision is not the team’s decision, but one that “comes from above”? No problem. But there is a better way of handling it than just telling the team that there is something they have to do. It is far better to get them to “buy into” the decision and, thereby, make it their own decision also. This may sound a bit naive, but let me assure you that it is not. Suppose a team leader hands out a new procedure for the team to follow and says, “Here is a new procedure the church is expecting us to do. Do you want to do it?” In most cases, after a bit of grumbling, the team will answer, “Yes.” But, if the team says it does not want to do the new procedure, the team leader can ask, “Why not?” This will only open up concerns or problems that need to be addressed.
If the team expresses a lot of complaining, the team leader can help the team separate out those concerns that really do not connect with the new procedure and encourage the team to schedule another time to discuss those issues. If the team just outright says that it does not want to implement the new procedure, the team leader will help them assess what will happen if they do not. In the end, the team leader will hopefully help the team find a way to incorporate the new procedure without it seriously affecting morale. The team might decide to do the new procedure, yet still communicate their concerns or proposed improvement up the chain of command.
Some people believe that letting people express their concerns through complaining is counterproductive. And, it usually is. But that is because the problem is not bounced back to the team to solve. Low morale and negative thinking can best be solved by the team itself. It is just another problem the team must address with discussion, decisions, and the carrying out of those decisions.
Next: Developing Teams That Help Everyone Know How to Do
Whatever Is Needed to Do Their Jobs Well
Copyright 2012 Dick Wulf, Colorado, USA