A common theme I have experienced in large companies is that there is either a lack of clarify in who makes the decisions, too many decision-makers, or one decision-maker holding up progress by trying to make every decision in their organization. While the last scenario has a clear understanding of who is in charge, the organization is handicapped. Let’s look at each scenario in more detail:

  • Lack of clarify: Having a lack of clarity within an organization on who is charged with a decision will only result slow decisions, decisions that are eventually overridden, or decisions by people who weren’t knowledgeable or experienced enough to make the right decision.
  • Too many decision-makers: In some large companies, there is a tendency for managers to not want to stick their neck out and make a decision in fear that their peers (who are competing for the same promotion) will take the opportunity to chop their head off if it’s a bad decision. The result is what many refer to as “decision by committee” or “consensus-based decision-making” whereby nobody is accountable for a bad decision. Another strategy is for managers to bring in a prestigious consultant in to make the recommendation. That way if the decision is bad the manager can point the finger at the consultant.
  • Control freaks: In this scenario, an executive is a control freak and won’t delegate small decisions. When employees make a decision or a recommendation, the executive overrides them, taking away their authority and credibility within the organization. This breeds a organization full of people who are afraid to make a decision resulting in no pipeline of leaders to succeed the executive when they move on.

These are just a few of the many scenarios where it’s not clear who is in charge. My recommendation is for an executive or manager (at any level) to define a clear line of decision-making authority and accountability within their sphere of responsibility. Take the time to delegate the appropriate levels of authority for each level of management. This may sound like common sense but I am continually surprised at how many businesses don’t have a clearly understood decision-making model.

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