Guidelines For Making Decisions With Your Team

By Natalie BarbaMay 18, 2017

Have you found yourself going around in circles to make a decision? We’ve all been there.

Suggesting how you’ll approach a decision is just as, if not more, important as the decision itself. You’ll save time, keep everyone on the same page, and ensure that your team comes to the best possible conclusion. So consider investing time upfront to create a framework for future decision-making.

Facing an executive meeting to discuss how her company makes decisions, Connie K turned to the Everwise community for suggestions on frameworks and helpful resources. Read on for their advice.

Get everyone on the same page

As Ann Flanagan Petry puts it, “focus on the ‘how’ of decision making vs. the ‘what’ we are deciding.”

Michelle Gabor recommends you kick off the meeting by identifying the “type of decision you are referring to — operational, strategic, urgent, or long-term. Also ask ‘what’s the challenge we have identified?’ ”

This step may seem small and simple. But decision-making often goes wrong because people have different notions of the importance or urgency of the problem. By making sure that everyone views the problem similarly, you’ll more effectively secure buy-in for the process you move forward with. Riccardo Bua seconds this notion: “I’ve found the most effective way to get a consensus around what the decisions are going to be is by having a common, shared understanding of the problem.”

Make sure every voice is heard

After everyone is aligned on the problem at hand, it’s helpful to build a framework for your decision making. Not sure where to start? Kerry Elam recommends you begin by listening. “Making sure everyone having a voice and being heard is what I’ve found most effective. Once everyone has been heard, then you can vote on the approach. Many times, conflict and not moving forward are simply because people do not feel heard.”

Flanagan Petry suggests posing specific questions to the room, “Have the team share the best decision-making processes they’ve experienced. Write those on a flip chart and customize your team’s process based on a co-created model.”

People are more invested in an outcome when they’ve contributed their voice and feedback. Whether you incorporate everyone’s ideas or not, you’ll set the foundation for your decision-making process by making everyone feel their ideas have been considered.

Set goals together

Manuel Perez Machirant says, “Making decisions is about goal-setting, having a plan, and being prepared.” Every decision needs to have an end game. Without a shared goal in mind, it is impossible to agree on best next steps.

Perez Machirant recommends setting SMART goals, or goals that are:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Results oriented
  • Time based

By doing so, your decision-making process will be focused and targeted.

Identify roles

Now that you understand the type of decision you’ll be making and its goals, it’s time to identify individuals’ roles in the process.

Anil Virmani says “A simple decision making framework I have used in the past is the RASCI (also called the RASI) model. In short:

  • R is for the person Responsible for the decision.
  • A is for the person who Approves the decision.
  • S is the Support team that provides inputs during the decision making process.
  • C is a Consultant or a subject matter expert who might be needed for inputs.
  • I covers whoever needs to be Informed of the decision made, as well as how and why it was made.

In doing so, you’ll avoid confusion around people’s roles, contributions, and weight in the ultimate decision.

Bonus: turn to these recommended resources and frameworks

Researching how others have approached big decisions might be helpful if you’re leading a decision making process. Here are some places to start, courtesy of the Everwise community:

David Feidner suggests a whiteboarding video that walks through five questions to help you make tough decisions, from the Harvard Business Review. As Feidner says, “It’s helpful for sorting out the gray areas…”

Jeremy Donovan seconds Virmani’s suggestion to use the RASCI model when identifying roles. He also recommends two books: Decisive: How to Make Better Decisions at Work by Chip and Dan Heath and The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni.

Machirant cited Brian Tracy’s webinar outlining the 12 steps towards achieving any goal as a helpful resource.

Lastly, Anne Hengen says “As far as frameworks, you may be interested in the ‘fist of five’ model.  It’s a very direct voting mechanism that helps drive decision making. It also helps to surface hidden concerns, especially from people who may not be the most vocal in the room.  I’ve seen it used in a variety of settings, from operational up to executive. This page seems to summarize it nicely.”

In summary, when facing a big decision:

  • Get the team on the same page
  • Ensure that everyone feels heard
  • Set clear, actionable goals together
  • Identify everyone’s role and responsibilities

Interested in weighing in on topics like this? Join the Everwise Community as a mentor and check out the full discussion here.


Natalie Barba

Natalie Barba

Community Operations

About the Author

As Associate Community Manager at Everwise, Natalie focuses on engaging with a global community of professionals and connecting them with one another. She’s passionate about working with children and supporting others’ growth.

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