Decision Making

You may have seen this quotation from Steve Jobs shared on LinkedIn: “It doesn't make sense to hire smart people and tell them what to do; we hire smart people so they can tell us what to do.” Joel Spolsky agrees. His management trilogy (mentioned in What Does a Manager Do?) claims that effective management aligns the goals of the company with the individual. Intrinsic motivation is the key to an engaged workforce.

If you agree with Joel and Steve then you, as a manager, should not be making decisions. Managers, by definition, have the least amount of direct information about any implementation details. Managers, leaders, and executives may have broader understanding, but that’s no reason to make the decision. It is the leader’s job to set the culture, values, and expectations. You should share the broader context so the lowest possible level of the org chart makes any given decision.

It may make you nervous to give up control, but no matter who makes a decision there is a chance of failure. Any decision, no matter how well informed, could be a mistake. Remember failure is a great teacher. Letting someone decide, be wrong, and learn from the experience is the best training. And, as Jeff Bezos says, there are very few decisions that can’t be undone.

Additional Reading