We could try this

A dialogue that is often heard in organizations of all sizes and in all industries is the following.

Manager: We have taken the decision to do this. Go and do it.
Employees: Who has taken the decision? Based on what? Why are we doing this? How does this fit with all the rest we are already doing?

There are two problems with this approach.

First of all, managers very rarely share information about the decision-making process. This is problematic, since if you want people to be committed you probably need to give them a better idea of what is going on. Chances are, though, that the decision-making process is one or two persons following their intuition, and so there’s probably not much more context to add to the outcome itself.

The second problem is that it sets the employees mainly as executors. It is challenging to give your best when you are not involved in shaping what needs to happen, and if that is the case the manager can already expect some sort of resistance, either in the form of low-quality work or in the form of time-delays.

A far better way to handle this dialogue would be the following.

Manager: We have decided we want to be there next year. How do we make it happen?
Employees: We could try this. And this. And this.

Of course, it sounds scary, as it gives control away. Expect a lot of ideas, initial chaos, and perhaps a bunch of changes in direction (also the other approach has such features, they are just more hidden). And yet, this is the only way to prepare your employees to give their best, to act for what they have prepared, and to deliver incremental value to the whole organization.

Give it a try.

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