What! - Staff making decisions, really?
I know what you're thinking, staff make decisions all day long right? Ok well that's true enough, but what inspired me to write this blog today was a few interesting examples I have come across where owners and managers have been approaching decision making in two wildly differing ways. The first approach is, "I'm the manager I make all the decisions" and in complete contrast, "I'm the manager but I have a hands off approach and my staff work autonomously". In my humble opinion these extremes are both management failings. On the one hand a manager is dictating to staff, not allowing their input and hence using the power of only one brain and set of experiences to drive the business. On the other end of the spectrum the manager is abstaining from any management responsibility, not giving direction and whilst staff are using their skills and experience to do the job, their efforts are not co-ordinated or guided by a vision and goals.
So here's a quick guide which may be helpful in engaging staff, improving management and leadership, improving motivation and some thoughts which will promote a sense of belonging amongst staff teams in early years and childcare...
1. Involve staff in important decisions not just practical day to day decisions
Asking your staff to get involved with important business decisions will improve motivation, as they will feel more valued as a result.
You get the benefits of several brains analysing a problem from completely different angles.
DO NOT undertake this process if you are not prepared to see it through and take the actions that your staff may come up with. Firstly it's a waste of time and secondly will damage motivation greatly.
2. Clearly define a situation or problem that the business is facing
Write down the problem and it's effects very clearly so that everyone reading it would completely understand the issue.
Don't put your opinion or thoughts in this description; you are merely defining an issue at this stage.
3. Set up an ideas session
Give your staff the definition of the issue along with any background information, then set up an ideas session to try to find solutions to the problem.
This should be done out of the work environment and you need to give staff time to be part of this, don't rush it over a lunch hour, or just before they go home!
TIP - always invite someone to this session who doesn't know about the issue or about your work, this person will stimulate some interesting thoughts because they have no preconceived ideas about what or how things should be done. (Basically they will ask the dumb questions which often lead to great solutions!)
4. Assess ideas and select most likely solution
The ideas session will throw up lots of suggestions, or there will be a consensus that there is only a couple of solutions, either way you need to assess them before you take action.
Assess solutions on a cost / benefit / effects basis, this does not mean go for the cheapest solution, assess the benefits and see what they're worth to achieve!
This is an important step because some of the solutions may not be financially or politically viable and you need to reflect on solution viability. It is also important that if you involve your team and then you cannot take their suggestions forward, there needs to be a good reason which they can see and understand, this will enhance motivation even further!
5. Check commitment & implement
So, you have your solutions, .....Everyone has been part of the decisions made, ......everyone is feeling good,...... so take the opportunity to test their commitment!
Often solutions to problems have knock on effects to the way people work. You need to check back at then end of this process to make sure staff are fully committed and happy to go with the changes. Better to sort this now than live with problems afterwards!!
In summary: Great staff do their jobs well, but also help your business, if you let them,........ So let them!