Helping Clients Through Their Decision-Making Process

Written by on June 2, 2015

A recent client called on us for help with some of the major issues that had arisen, as an externality of making the transition from start-up to steady-state. As is the case with many groups in such flux, this client was in need of organization. It was still in that infancy phase where everyone does everything in an almost complete lack of structure, and several challenges had reared their ugly heads, some as fundamental as decision-making.

 Who Gets to Decide?

There are times when a team leader brings a decision before a group, and he or she does indeed want a consensus. Those are times when everyone has to work collaboratively to make the right choice, but within that collaborative dynamic, the team can easily fall into a trap where, even though consensus is not required, everyone might feel that he or she has a part to play in, and a right to be involved in the decision-making process. They may, but to what extent? There are times when the team leader simply has to make a decision alone. He or she may indeed want input from the team’s members—their ideas and their suggestions—but not their vote. The leader wants the team to help him/her think through the process by which he alone will make the decision.

How do you differentiate between the two modes without ruffling feathers?

The Importance of Clarity

The client had reached the point in its evolution where everything needed to be made clear to all members of the team. We needed to show the team leader, or whoever was in the position of having to make a decision, how to clarify what they wanted or needed from the team.

  • Do you want help in making the decision, or is it yours to make alone?
  • Do you need the team to come to a consensus? Or do you just want their input?
  • If it’s just their input that you want, what sorts of ideas and suggestions do you want?

Whether you seek consensus, or just want to engage in a brainstorming session to help you think through your choices, you need to make sure it’s being done in an environment where everyone is clear on the expectations and everyone can have their say, without being judged. Everyone has to work together, to be aligned, so that while not everyone agrees, once a decision is made, everyone can live with it.