How To Succeed At Decentralized Decision-Making
Decentralization, if handled correctly, can be powerful. The key is to empower employees to establish autonomy when making business decisions. However, doing this can introduce challenges for leaders and employees.
When you’re faced with challenges, the answer is not spending more time developing expertise or perfection in every part of the business. In my experience, you won’t find success by overanalyzing the various business practices involved in your company, but rather by ensuring timely and quality decisions are made while sustaining an inspired team.
Too many people address the challenges in front of them by attempting to perfect or over-train on activities such as sales, accounts receivable, inventory, and so on, focusing on the tactical nature of solving the specific problem and not embracing the power that a decentralized environment can provide.
Addressing those topics is an important part of the solution, but it’s not the foundation of success. Your team can find success by focusing on unlocking the power of the decentralized workplace.
I recall the hurdles I faced when I was providing oversight to teams practicing decentralized decision-making that were used to looking for direction from their team leaders.
One strategy you can use to expose potential for decision-making in the employees and leaders within your organization is to embrace the decentralization process with four key steps in mind.
Keys To A Decentralized Decision-Making Success
1. Obtain and retain knowledge.
2. Create efficiencies throughout the organization.
3. Continually increase core competency activity.
4. Develop the team.
The first step is to obtain and retain knowledge. To do this, you’ll need to train yourself. In today’s environment, we are asked to wear many hats while managing roles that are evolving every day.
Have you noticed that the people we admire, the smart ones, are not necessarily experts on every topic? Rather, they are experts on where the answers are. They understand the paths they need to take to retrieve knowledge quickly.
Organizations gather so much data and implement so many processes and strategies that it has become nearly impossible to be the expert on everything. The leaders or experts, more often than not, are those who understand where to access resources such as catalogs, PDFs, training documents, industry data, technical statistics, etc. When someone calls upon them, they quickly access information and move on to the next topic.
The second step is to create efficiencies throughout the organization. It helps to develop systems. Disorganization or inefficient processes are a drain on productivity in the business. How can you operate efficiently if your workplace and/or processes are filled with waste?
Disorganization destroys profitability and can cultivate negative attitudes. Creating a work culture of discovering new processes and using them to find efficiencies will help eliminate the waste and allow you to work smarter, not harder.
The third step is to continually increase core competency activity. After uncovering efficiencies in the business, you will have essentially created time in the workday. Convert 100% of that time into activities that increase the productivity of core functions the business relies on you for. Uncovering success with the first two steps allows you to increase the time you spend on the activities that are directly correlated to success in your role.
The final step is to develop your team. Lead with positive reinforcement. A decentralized work environment flourishes when you share knowledge between employees. The more efficient the workforce becomes, the more productive the business can become.
As the business grows, it is vital that everyone is sharing information with those around them. Growing businesses typically either demand more of the current workforce or require the addition of new personnel. Therefore, it’s crucial to develop people around you to be as good as you or better.
Everyone on the team should be sharing the knowledge they gain in the business with all team members. This development allows the team to improve and allows the process of the four steps to become a habit that uncovers the synergy waiting to be unleashed in your workplace.
So, when the chaos of the workplace threatens to overwhelm you, ask yourself if you are practicing the four keys to decentralized decision-making. Take the time to step back and make these areas focal points in how you approach the business so you can set the tone as a leader who embraces the decentralized environment and assists others with finding their success as well.
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