Empower Employee Decision-Making

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Why is it that employees are so good at delegating up to their boss when really the manager or supervisor should be pushing those decisions down to the front line?

Think about the kinds of decisions and problems that you’ve been addressing recently. How many of them should have been addressed by the person who brought them to you? Likely quite a few. You may have employees who ask questions that they could answer for themselves or problems that should be addressed by the person closest to the action.

A problem that could be addressed by front line supervisors should not be delegated up. When this happens, it consumes managers’ or more senior employees’ time and takes them away from bigger issues. And it deprives people on the front line from having more control and empowerment over their day-to-day work.

This is decision-making waste because it uses up decision capacity on things that aren’t adding value to the organization or team.

Those decisions should be pushed down to the person who is closest to the front line and capable of making that decision. Many managers enjoy getting involved in the details. However, the solutions they bring forward will not be as effective because they are further from the front line. As well, their actions cause workers to go to that manager first instead of thinking things through on their own.

Let’s look at what you can do to push the decision-making down to the right level.

Start by asking employees, “What do you think might work here?” This helps you assess their level of problem-solving, troubleshooting and decision-making. If they come up with a decision just as good as the one you would have made, it’s even better because now they own it.

Sometimes people don’t know what questions to ask when they’re trying to make decisions on their own. As the leader, ask questions to guide them through different options.

When you stop making the decisions that your people can make, this frees you to focus on decisions that will propel your department's performance forward. Click To Tweet

Finally, think about teaching instead of spoon-feeding people. When you spoon-feed them they become dependent on you. When you teach them, they have the opportunity to grow. This, in turn, helps them become self-sufficient and empowered. When this happens, you don’t need to be constantly involved and can focus on bigger issues.

When you stop making the decisions that your people can make, this frees you to focus on decisions that will propel your department’s performance forward. Empower the people that are closest to the front line to make those decisions and free up your time as the leader.

How do you empower your employees to make their own decisions? Let me know in the comments below.