Friday, October 26, 2012

How-to: Become part of decision-making at work

"Get to be part of the meeting-before-the-meeting," Stan told me. "Before we even get into the room, our boss has decided the agenda and what's going to be done."

My background of discussion and collaboration means I love the push and pull of a team, manipulating ideas and possibilities before coming to a decision. I'm happy with consensus, even if the decision reached by the group is not my first choice. I instinctively resist pronouncements by top-down controllers who impose their will on others.

I've been in opposite types of meetings. At the first type, like the one after which Stan explained the apparent deafness of the leader to others' ideas, the decisions have been made and the group simply affirms the boss's wishes. At the second, team members function in their strengths and giftings, bringing all their information and experience to guide the direction of the company or church.

The first kind of decision-making -- dictatorial or hierarchical --  is quicker and more efficient in the short-term. The second kind -- consensus reached by a well-functioning group -- produces holistic planning that is broader and deeper and anticipates the future.

The first results in head-down worker bees who are afraid to stand out in case they get knocked around. The second produces a company culture of "I want to help" and possibility-thinking.

If you're in a strong hierarchy, (typical in most offices and easier for a boss to manage,) how do you influence the decisions before their pronouncement?

1. Listen carefully for the boss's values and note his or her goals. Match your own goals to theirs and point out your accomplishments in light of the leader's targets. If you become a trusted achiever, the boss may invite you into the loop of her decision making ... or just leave you alone to accomplish your goals.

2. Examine where the leader meets with others.
  • Does the boss live only in her office? 
  • Does he frequent a coffee shop or conference room before meetings?
  • If the guys are walking down the hall when a question comes up, the team leader may instinctively point out a favored solution. It's a done deal for those privy to the conversation. 
  • The gals may be refreshing their makeup at the bathroom sink when an issue comes up. "Call so-and-so and do this..." says the woman in charge. And the decision is made without men's input.
You can't do much about such impromptu cause and effect besides bringing the boss' attention to the implications for the rest of the team. BUT you can plan to be around if there's a clear pattern of interaction. As Stan told me, most decisions are made through casual interactions between (not at) formal meetings.

3. Is there an insider culture? Do office influencers golf, craft, hunt, attend the same church or club, or eat lunch together in the company cafeteria? Consider ways you can become included in those interactions.

4. Are there a select few who have the ear of the boss? Befriending them may get your ideas on the table. I managed my department at one company through interaction with the leader's friends. They claimed my best ideas as their own and I got my work done. Note: If you intend to climb the corporate ladder in such a culture, document your ideas before presenting them so you can reclaim them as your own.

5. Reverence God and stand for what is right. Trust Him to make your path straight.

Biblical examples point out that influence happens close to the powers that be. How have you found this to be true?

Read more:
*When [King David] crossed over to Gilgal, Kimham crossed with him. All the troops of Judah and half the troops of Israel had taken the king over.

Soon all the men of Israel were coming to the king and saying to him, “Why did our brothers, the men of Judah, steal the king away and bring him and his household across the Jordan, together with all his men?”

All the men of Judah answered the men of Israel, “We did this because the king is closely related to us. Why are you angry about it? Have we eaten any of the king’s provisions? Have we taken anything for ourselves?”

Then the men of Israel answered the men of Judah, “We have ten shares in the king; so we have a greater claim on David than you have. Why then do you treat us with contempt? Weren’t we the first to speak of bringing back our king?”

But the men of Judah pressed their claims even more forcefully than the men of Israel. 2 Samuel 19:40-43 NIV

*But I, by your great mercy, will come into your house in reverence will I bow down toward your holy temple. Lead me, O Lord, in your righteousness because of my enemies—make straight your way before me. Psalm 5:7-8 NIV

*Their houses will be turned over to others, together with their fields and their wives, when I stretch out my hand against those who live in the land,” declares the Lord. “From the least to the greatest, all are greedy for gain; prophets and priests alike, all practice deceit. They dress the wound of my people as though it were not serious. ‘Peace, peace,’ they say, when there is no peace. Jeremiah 6:12-14 NIV

*Paul wrote: I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work among you will bring it to completion by the day of Jesus Christ. Philippians 1:6

Moravian Prayer: Compassionate God, we come to you with both sadness and joy. We are filled with sadness by the many ways that we fall short: by our hard-heartedness and by unhealthy self-preoccupation. Yet we are filled with joy, because we trust you will complete your work within us by your mercy and grace. Strengthen us! Amen.

No comments:

Post a Comment