How to Effectively Communicate Decisions as The Boss
Does this sounds familiar? You supervise a team that usually works together very well. You are a respectful, friendly and accessible boss. You know that the best leaders make decisions, explain those decisions clearly, communicate expectations, and take responsibility for the implementation and effectiveness. You strive to make this your default practice.
But when the team is operating under tight deadlines or pressure, everything changes. As the one accountable, you take the lead and become more directive. But then you get push back from your team. Some folks are less responsive, even resistant. You keep telling them what is needed, but the rolling eyes and incomplete assignments are not the results you want.
Let’s break down the different ways supervisors can develop and express decisions.
Commanding (I decide, I tell you my decision);
Consulting (I ask for your input, then I decide and tell you);
Collaborating or Negotiating (We decide together); and
Delegating (I’m telling you the result I need, you decide the rest).
First, you need to be clear in your own mind about which approach to use for the decision AND SHARE THAT. This is a part of managing expectations. If you are normally in the collaborating or delegating zone, but need to move to the consulting or commanding approach, tell your team and explain why.
Moving to Commanding: “I know we normally have a meeting to talk through how to approach this project, but we are working on a very tight deadline. I believe our best chance of succeeding as a team and meeting this deadline is to use the process we developed for the Anderson case…”Communicate what is at stake, then talk about WHO does WHAT by WHEN.
Moving to Consulting: “I know we normally sit down and talk through how to approach this project, but we are working on a very tight deadline. I believe our best chance of succeeding as a team and meeting this deadline is to use a process we previously developed. I was thinking the Anderson case. Does anyone have another suggestion? I’m open to input before I decide. Then we can talk about next steps”
For those who use the consulting approach, soliciting input doesn’t mean that you’re opening the decision to negotiation. Instead, think of input as just another step in the process of getting things done. You can set boundaries, like time limits for the discussion. And there are clear benefits. 1. People feel more invested if they have the opportunity to be heard. 2. There may also be nuances around the implementation that require further clarification and group problem solving saves time.
Most importantly, offering to listen doesn’t change who owns that decision.
Blog post informed by Difficult Conversations; How to Discuss What Matters Most by Stone, Patten and Keen.