Somewhere along the way, I think the world-of-work got seriously hoodwinked into believing majority rules when it comes to business. As we got more in tune with each other’s feelings, emotions and pride – as we became concerned about having highly engaged and connected employees – we lost sight of the fundamental premise on which capitalism is built: winning. Now we’re focused on involving everyone in everything…in giving them a voice. And sure enough that ‘voice’ has turned into a ‘vote’ which has turned into an appallingly slow pace of change, risk taking, and decision making.
The amount of time we spend trying to appease everyone “at the table” makes me gag. It’s one thing to gather as much input and feedback as possible. Diverse perspective, after all, creates better answers…we all know this. It’s another thing entirely, though, to try and give equal weight and merit to all of that perspective. Dissent is healthy for business as long as we’re prepared to move past it…even if it means we can’t resolve it. We waste so much damn time glad-handing differences of opinion rather than simply acknowledging them, considering them, and quickly moving on. And we do this mostly because someone hasn’t (or is afraid to) set the appropriate tone or expectations. Rarely have I been to a meeting where the leader actually opens it by saying something like, “I’ve gathered you here today to gain your perspective on a decision we’re trying to make. Once we’ve heard from you we’ll be making our decision based primarily on what we believe is best for the organization; that decision may or may not directly reflect your input.” What you are more likely to experience is that everyone comes to that meeting thinking they have some license to authorize or approve. And so we go round and round and round; we politic, we boost egos, we give everyone their “day in court”; and all the while we squander time, resources, and momentum.
HR professionals need to help turn the tide on this misguided approach to leadership. Your leaders should understand:
- They have the authority and permission to make decisions without the direct involvement of everyone and their mothers. Make those decisions with conviction.
- Yours is a profitable venture, not a democracy. ‘Consensus’ – while interesting – is not a requirement. And just to be clear, ‘Consensus’ does not equal ‘Unanimity.’
- If they let the opinions of others dictate their decision making process (rather than just influence it) you really don’t need them in the middle of that process…in fact, you probably don’t need them at all.
- Sometimes you’ll make the wrong decision, but that’s the price you’ll just have to pay for making lots of right ones.
- You won’t always be asked to give your input; sometimes it just doesn’t matter or we already have enough of it… too many cooks in the kitchen spoil the pot.
- If you trust others to make decisions, they’ll trust you to do the same.
I’ll play nice as long as it furthers the agenda to which I have been charged. And if there is even the slightest disruption in momentum as a result of trying to be inclusive, I’ll cut you out of the process pronto. I don’t care if you cry foul; it’s the organization you’re hurting…not me.
Image Credit: Art.com