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Managing Change – Part 4 (Decision-making)

The Relationship Model

In today’s fast-moving world the concepts of management and “change management” are synonymous terms. Adapting to an ever-changing environment in which we attempt to achieve our mission is the predominant concern of all successful organizations.

In order to manage change effectively managers must be able to manage the six core processes that allow an organization to manage change. This series of articles seeks to introduce the six core processes that allow us to manage change and then to discuss each one in more detail.

Understanding the behavioural values that will make each of these processes successful and fulfilling is as important as understanding the processes themselves. The three primary value systems that we observe in management are authoritarian, collaborative and laissez-faire. These form a continuum of values, where authority is excessive, in balance or inadequate. Where managers will anchor themselves on this continuum of values will determine their success. The articles will demonstrate the effect of each value system on the outcome of each process.

Decision-making is the third core process of an organization. The manner in which decisions are made within an organization is determined more by the underlying values than by any other single factor.

Successful decision-making results in the important balance between staff fulfillment and client fulfillment (productivity). And successful decision-making requires also a balance between authority and responsibility.

Let’s first take a look at the effect of various values on decision-making. In this series, we have been speaking of a continuum of value systems–from the authoritarian values on one end of the continuum to the laissez-faire value system on the other. In the collaborative center is the relationship value system that produces healthy working relationships and therefore also a healthy decision-making process.

Authoritarian Behavioural Values

The authoritarian value system will reveal itself in the decision-making process in several ways that are harmful to relationships and also to the quality of the decisions. The most obvious mark is the lack of involvement in the decision-making process by people who are directly affected by the decisions. When a person in a position of authority makes arbitrary decisions without involvement by those affected by them, the decisions will lack the quality that the experience, perspective and wisdom of those impacted by the decision. The result may be a decision that carries unrealistic expectations or inadequate resources of people, finances, information or time. The “might is right” mentality fails to see the need for involvement with the result that relationships are likely to be damaged, fulfillment will be reduced and productivity will be negatively affected.

Laissez-faire Behavioural Values

On the opposite end of the continuum a laissez-faire value system will also have a negative impact on relationships and the decision-making process. The primary indicator of this value system is the absence of clear direction and any expression of expectation from the process. Left alone or even abandoned, the decision makers are disempowered by not knowing the extent of their authority the expectations of their responsibility. The decisions that result may miss the big picture needs of the organization. Or the decision-making process will be stalled or stopped altogether with the result that no decision is made at all.

Collaborative Behavioural Values

When the relationship values of affirmation, involvement and servant leadership form the basis of the process, we will observe several important indicators to confirm that the decision-making process is working from a healthy set of values.

The decision makers will know whether the decision is being delegated to them to make or whether their source of authority is asking for input for a decision that is not being delegated to them. In either case the involvement of those directly affected is a significant part of the process and their importance is being affirmed.

The decision-makers will also sense the support of the servant leader who is the source of authority in the process. Instead of “lording it over” the decision-makers or abandoning them, the servant leader wants to be sure that the decision makers have the authorization and resources they need to make a decision of quality.

Les Stahlke, President/CEO
GovernanceMatters.com Inc.