Helping Employees Make Better Decisions

The people you bring into the organization are expected to do a good job with respect to their assigned duties. But it’s also implicitly understood these positions often come with the need for strong decision-making. As every business owner and CEO knows, there are times when everyone within the company must make decisions about business matters.

We strive to empower our team so they can make daily operational decisions, as needed. That includes those of our team in our forestry group, sawmill operations, the concentration yards, or in administrative positions. At Baillie, we make every effort to avoid micromanagement, favoring instead to support the temperament and experience our employees bring to their jobs. We want our people to take responsibility and to make key decisions when necessary.improvingemployeedecisionmaking

Have you been looking for ways to empower your employees to make better decisions? Here are a few tips for boosting your own team members’ decision-making skills that you may find helpful.

Hire new staff and train them on decision-making.

 Each organizational decision made touches upon more than the person who makes that decision. Obviously, this is true at the highest corporate level, but most business leaders understand they can’t do everything (or make all the decisions) themselves.

As we have noted before, “The ideal solution is hiring and training people who can evaluate most situations on their own and take the appropriate action—without bringing the matter to your attention.”

Be sure decisions align with the corporate vision. 

Operational decisions are far more effective when they align with a company’s vision and values. It’s up to employers to ensure that employees understand how their own work—and the decisions they make—are connected to broader strategic objectives.

When employees feel that what they do makes a tangible difference, they are more open to training and guidance where decision-making is involved.

Offer coaching, where necessary.

 The goal here is enabling employees to make operational decisions without going to their supervisor on a daily basis.

The best employee coaching methods emphasize that team members understand “they cannot bring a decision to your desk without thoroughly analyzing the issue and taking a position,” notes Inc. Offer coaching that ensures “that each employee has considered all the options” of a given situation before arriving at a decision (or seeking assistance).

Provide a clear outline of how decisions should be made. 

Even your most talented employee may need some guidance on how decisions are made within your company’s culture. To offset this, “periodically sit down with each of your key employees and have them explain how they arrived at various decisions,” advises ForConstructionPros.

Compare and contrast their progression with how your culture views the overall decision-making process. If they are going about things in the right way, encourage them to continue forward. If, on the other hand, their process doesn’t align with company practices, explain where the differences lie and encourage them to refine how decisions get made.

Allow for mistakes and recognize successes. 

Sometimes, even the most well-informed employee can make the wrong decision. If you truly want a collaborative, empowered workforce, it’s vital not to penalize a mistake, but rather to encourage that everyone learns from it. When mistakes happen, make them “teachable moments, with constructive feedback that helps employees understand what led to the mistake and how to avoid making it in the future,” notes Wharton Online.

On the other hand, celebrate employee decisions that generate a favorable outcome by recognizing individuals during all-staff meetings or a personalized message from a manager or senior executive. Make sure successes are recognized on a timely basis.

Given the pace and complexity of business today, having a team you can trust with respect to decision-making is invaluable. With the right guidance and coaching, your team can meet that objective and help propel the company to greater future growth.

 Whether that means making decisions regarding bidding on a timber tract, buying green lumber, whether to saw Hard Maple or White Oak next, or even determining how to bring our hardwood lumber products to market, we always try to use maximize decision-making to improve our processes in the competitive hardwood lumber industry.   

What has worked for you in the past when it comes to strengthening your team's decision-making in the hardwood lumber industry?  Let us know. We would love to hear from you! 

Brett Del Prince
Baillie Lumber Co.
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