Learn about the participatory decision-making style and the situations when it’s most appropriate.
The second style of decision you can make is participatory. This is when you’re going to make a decision with input from the people who are going to be impacted by the final call. Participatory decisions are made when the decision is much bigger and there’s a lot more risk involved. Getting additional information from more people is going to reduce the decision-making risk. Also, by getting buy-in, you’re reducing execution risk because people have had an opportunity to give their input and have a say in the final call that’s made.
As far as that final call, in participatory decision-making, there’s still a smaller decision-making authority. It may be an individual or a smaller group. This aspect of participatory decision-making can feel a little autocratic, but we’ve gotten input along the way. And the individuals are going to interact with each other as this decision is being made. Getting all the people in the room so that they can hear each other’s perspectives is going to help you drive to a better decision.
Allow me to offer an example. Recently in my firm, we looked at raising prices on some of the services we offer. This is a really big decision and it has a huge impact on the financials of my firm. So I couldn’t rush off and just make an autocratic decision without getting input from the other people I work with. So we sat down, we had a conversation, and we weighed the pros and cons. People had their say and they brought up things that I hadn’t thought of. We highlighted some risks that we were going to have to mitigate along the way. Ultimately, as the leader of the firm, I had to make the final call. But I got input from the people who are going to be involved in executing the decision so that we get better execution on the back end.
As you think about making decisions in a participatory environment, remember you should be using this style when the decisions are bigger. You have a little bit more time to make the decision because you need to gather more input along the way which takes time and meetings. But ultimately, that smaller decision-making body is going to make the call.
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