+Scott Watson

Monday, 27 July 2009

Why won't the bosses change their decision?

You must know how frustrating it can be when you know that a decision has been made, a path to follow decided and all steam ahead for you and your colleagues to meet a very challenging deadline.

When a top team within an organisation make a decision on a new strategy, for some, it can create a level of excitement, eager anticipation - and for others, fear, apathy and disengagement. The problems begin to appear when managers and front-line employees don't have a clear understanding or appreciation of the decision to choose a new path, to market, to serve customers or to enhance profitability while reducing costs. This absence of understanding can cause rumours to abound and B.S. (belief systems) about what is right and what is wrong to become embedded within a culture.

I have seen numerous examples of well considered, well defined strategic plans fall apart, partly because the communication around them lacks context and didn't consider communicating from the recipients perspective - this is 'telling them what we think they need to know' versus 'What information would be valuable for employees to know and how can we share it'?

Why is it so difficult for a top team to change their mind?

There are many reasons, far too many to mention in this forum. But the reasons include:

We have made and communicated and we are paid and trusted to make such decisions - so we reserve the right not to change it.

We have made a decision and must stick with it so we are not perceived to lack competence and lacking in decision-making capability.

The decision/s we have made are fit for purpose, accurate bearing in mind the information we have so there is no need to change it.

If I (individual) state my disagreement with the rest of the top team, I may be viewed as a trouble-maker or negative member of the team, so I'll keep quiet.

One thing that is often not appreciated by managers and front-line employees is that it is terribly difficult for a top team to change or do a U-Turn on a major strategy or policy decision. It can be viewed as incompetent leadership - and in some cases it might be just that. In other instances it could be that the decision made is the best decision when all things are considered, it's just that employees don't fully understand why things are or aren't happening as they would like or see fit. Managers should always bear in mind - The bosses are likely to possess information which you are not privy to. Thoughts of poor leadership or decision-making are often just that - thoughts! But it is essential to separate FACTS from FICTION in these situations. And this is best done through the sharing timely, factual information from the top down, and back up again.

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