When you are operating a small business you can not be everywhere at the same time. Because of this, if you want to grow and scale your business you will quickly need to figure out how to empower your employees to make decisions so you are not a bottleneck to your own growth. While this seems simple, it is critical that your employees understand that you have not only given them the ability to make a decision, but that you will back them up later if that decision turns out to be a bad one. If you don’t do that, they will no longer feel comfortable making decisions and things can grind to a halt.
One way that decisions “go bad”, is if they are out of alignment with the stakeholder’s values on what is important to the business. In addition to being in alignment with values, they have to pass those value tests in order of priority. This is where a decision tree can come in.
If you develop a decision tree based upon the way you would make a decision as it aligns with your company values, your employees can feel comfortable making decisions that will not be questioned later. For example, if the highest value you hold in how you do business is that the work you do is ethical by a certain set of standards, then that should be the first test a decision should pass. If you were in the IT business and a customer bought one copy of a software and asked one of your employees to load it on multiple computers, your employee can be comfortable saying “no” to that customer without fear of retribution, even if the client gets mad and fires your firm because loading the software multiple times would be stealing and therefore unethical.
Steps in your decision tree will vary but other tests that could be added might relate to having enough resources to do the job properly, being able to deliver a quality result, and being able to make a profit from the project. Whatever your decision tree looks like, be sure to memorialize it in writing and discuss it with your employees. It will even help to discuss different decisions you have made and see how they would fare if walked through your new decision tree. It is likely that some decisions were inconsistent in the past and that is OK. Now that you have worked through this effort it will be easier to be a consistent leader for your team going forward.
Michael Giuffrida from Southington CT has been operating businesses since 1997. He is an experienced entrepreneur in business management, profitable growth, business valuation, mergers and acquisitions, and information technology managed services.