The days of the boss hurling down lightning bolts while his employees scurry to do his bidding are long gone. Employees today are better educated, better trained, and have access to more information than ever before. They have insights as to what’s working well and what’s not. In short, they are smart people who expect a seat at the decision-making table. If they are denied that seat, a number of things are likely to happen, and all of them are bad.
First, the best employees will leave in favor of businesses that value their input. Then the remaining employees will not enthusiastically support decisions in which they had no part. Or worse, they may use passive-aggressive behavior to subvert such decisions. On the other hand, an inclusive decision-making process carries a number of positive outcomes.
The most important outcome is that the executive gets the brain power of some really smart people who will express views, opinions, and ideas that s/he may not have considered. Job satisfaction goes up because people want to know that their views have been heard and valued. And implementation is more robust when employees are part of the process and take ownership of the decisions.
The trick in all of this is to create an atmosphere of inclusion and trust. You don’t have to accept the ideas, opinions, and points of view your employees express, but your people need to know that their views are valued and will receive due consideration. They need to know that you’re actually listening to them, not just hearing them . . . and there’s a big difference. Hearing is just your brain acknowledging sound. Listening happens when you push out distractions, focus on what is being said, and try to gain understanding. Developing good listening skills takes some effort, but there’s a big payoff in better employee relations and communications.
The one drawback to all this inclusion stuff is that decisions made with input from lots of people may not be as elegant and precise as a decision formulated by one person. Still, it’s far better to have an imperfect decision perfectly implemented than it is to have a perfect decision poorly implemented.