Some companies refer to their employees as “employees.” Other organizations refer to their employees as “associates,” “staff members,” or “team members.” There is not much correlation between how a company or department refers to their “employees” and overall employee satisfaction. However, there is a direct correlation between how involved employees are in the decision making in their department or team and their overall morale, motivation, and satisfaction with their jobs. Companies and departments who have a higher level of employee involvement in decision making show higher levels of employee motivation and satisfaction. All managers and supervisors would like everyone to think that they involve employees in the decision making of their department or team.
But when you would actually ask the employees or associates, would you get the same answers? There are many benefits of involving employees in the decision making of your company or department. Decision making is one of the toughest parts of running a business. But, it is the ability to make decisions that makes one feel like the ‘owner’, making it hard to do away with authority. However, experts say that at times it is important and often mandatory to engage employees in the decision making process. Powerful shifts have been taking place in the world around us. More people are demanding a say in the institutions that impact them. Consumers are determining what a company’s brand is – not the other way around. It’s an exciting revolution and many organizations are responding with new ways of working.
The desire to have a say in perhaps our most important institution – the company we work for – has been a fundamental desire of employees for a long time, and the current shift is intensifying this desire. Unfortunately, the divide between the type of involvement employees crave and what they actually have seems to be widening in many organizations. And that is just one of the reasons of the decline in workforce of companies. Leading people successfully in this new world requires a new paradigm – collaborative leadership. This approach works because it is less top-down and it enables real employee involvement in making a business work. Simply put, collaborative leadership makes employees partners in the business management process.
Here are some of the reasons why entrepreneurs should involve their employees in the decision- making process:
They Feel Valued
The associates feel they are a valued part of the team. When associates are involved in the decision making, they feel that people in ownership and management positions value them as a significant contributor to the team’s success. When people feel valued, they will usually raise their level of effort and commitment to ensure the department’s or company’s success. The associates are able to make better day-to-day decisions because they have accurate information regarding the direction of the company or department. Managers and supervisors who do not share information or involve associates in the decision making are usually the same people who complain that associates are unable to make good decisions.
Previously, employees were told what to do and they did it – this approach seemed to work for a long time. Then, smart employers started involving employees by asking for their input on how to improve the way things worked. However, it was still up to managers and executives to decide whether to listen to these suggestions. Often they didn’t, leaving employees disillusioned. Collaborative leadership gives employees a seat at the leadership table and makes them partners in defining the vision and plan for their organization. The benefits of this approach include higher quality options and strategies, greater employee buy-in for new directions and the required action, greater organizational agility in the face of rapid change, and ultimately, better business performance.
They Feel More Responsible
The associates feel a stronger bond of responsibility for making the decision. When you are responsible for making a decision, and the decision turns out to be a bad one, you do whatever you can to correct the decision and make things right. The same is true for everyone. When associates are involved in making the decision, the chances of the decision being a success increase since all members of the team are committed to correcting the parts of the decision that are not in alignment with the department’s or company’s vision and values. The associates will focus more of their energy on future-oriented problem solving rather than blaming their current problems on management. Associates who have not been involved in making the decision have co-authored some great comments such as, “Whose brilliant idea was this?” or “This will never work in a hundred years.”
All of these comments demonstrate two things: First, the employee is not in agreement with the decision and second, when the decision goes wrong, and it will because the associate is not committed to the decision’s success, the employee has someone to blame. Employees will feel more responsible when they have a say in a decision. Collaborative leadership pushes beyond accountability to achieve the natural result of giving employees a seat at the leadership table – ownership. Enabling employee ownership for where the business is going, how it works and the results it’s achieving requires giving team members the knowledge and freedom to engage in problem-solving activities and make decisions collaboratively without oppressive micro-management. Employee ownership accelerates the ease and speed at which a business achieves its goals.
Morale and motivation is higher in organizations where associates are involved in the department/company’s decision making. When people are involved in the decision making, they know they make a difference to the department’s or company’s success. When people know they make a difference, they find it easier to be motivated and satisfied with their job. Getting employees involved in decision making is a sure shot way of making them feel important and boosting their morales. Low morale causes disengagement which results in high absenteeism and low productivity levels. Since high morale is influenced from top to down, the higher management has to do something about it, and giving employees a sense of power is a pretty good way to go about it.
Giving your employees a seat at the leadership table won’t make a real difference unless the atmosphere feels right – they just won’t contribute. Collaborative leadership works to create an environment where employees will be bold enough to make the most of this opportunity. It encourages participation by team members, engages them through intriguing questions, listens to their answers, and involves everyone in lively and positive dialogue. It enables and rewards new idea generation and implementation, the seizing of new opportunities, appropriate risk taking, and intelligent failure. When conditions feel safe, employees engage and collaborate enthusiastically.
More Time For Managers
When associates are able to make the decisions that impact their work, it frees up the manager or supervisor to work on more future-oriented issues that will ultimately make the department or company even more successful. For example, a manager will now have the time to look at how the department’s or company’s customers are changing their demands and level of expectations. With this new knowledge, the manager can lead a discussion on what changes will have to occur in the next decade to meet the changing customer demands. In addition, managers will have more time for changing procedures and refining processes.
You will have more time in hand to concentrate on other tasks when you have employees take decisions on your behalf. Decision making can be a tough process. It involves taking care of a lot of things, most importantly your employees’ reaction, especially when a decision concerns them. Conversely, when you have employees taking decisions, you do not have to do the homework or worry about what they would have to say on it. You are getting them involved in the process, and the end result is you have more time to spend on other activities.