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Responding to Flawed Decisions or Actions

business coaching business owner decision making delegation organizational clarity retreat Mar 11, 2024

From the desk of Klark Brown


When you establish clear organizational goal clarity, it will improve the quality of the decisions your people make.


Even with that done (process in place), will your people always make the same decision you would? 

Will your people at times make inferior decisions?


Will they at times also make superior decisions?


So, here is the question: Assume you are on a plane with no Wi-Fi, on vacation on a scuba boat, or cannot be interrupted in a meeting with a client. The specifics are not important. The point is that you are not available. Better yet, you are available but one of your team members is doing exactly what you have encouraged him to do and taking initiative. 

He makes a decision that seems to be a good one at the time based on the available information.
Soon after, circumstances change and it turns out to be a bad decision. Not only is it a bad decision, it is going to be a costly decision that reflects poorly on you. The question is, how will you respond? 

Will you call the person into your office and tell him that he really messed up?
Will you suggest that he was off base by even trying to make the decision?
Will you tell him to make sure he comes to you next time so you can make the decision? 

If you do any of these things, how do you think he will respond the next time he is presented with an opportunity to take initiative?
Almost certainly, he will not take action or make a decision on his own. Is that really your intent? Do you want to discourage him from taking initiative for a long time to come? If your response to what turns out to be a flawed decision is to chastise, berate, or criticize, you are undercutting yourself. 

All the encouragement you give your team to take initiative, be resourceful, think like business owners, and be entrepreneurial will be wasted. Not only will your encouragement be wasted on the team member who made the flawed decision, but every other team member who becomes aware of the situation will also be more reluctant to take initiative. When this happens, as it inevitably will, you need to bite your tongue and keep the long-term view in mind. 

To continue to encourage initiative-taking and the decentralized decisionmaking that will make your team more agile and effective, you need to take these steps:

  1.  Review the circumstances of the situation with the team member(s) involved. 
  2. Do not be critical. 
  3. Explain that your goal is to make sure everyone learns from the experience and that the mistake is not repeated.
  4. Drive the conversation toward what can be done differently next time to get a better outcome.
  5. Make it clear that while the team members cannot afford to make the same mistake again, you appreciate their willingness to take initiative and want to encourage them to continue to do so.


Find out about our Delegation Mastery Retreat.


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