In part 3 of my “decision-making” mini-series, I’m going to talk about making fewer decisions. It may seem a bit contradictory to the first two, but bear with me… I swear I’m making sense here. In my first piece, I talked about the importance of making decisions out of abundance, not fear and lack. Then, I discussed the impact and influence of your emotions in your decision-making.
Now, I’m making a 180 shift – this post will focus on pushing decisions outwards and to the edges. Aka, making FEWER decisions.
“But Anthony, you just told us in two articles HOW to make decisions. Wtf, man?”
Good point. But first, let me ask you something:
Are you your company’s bottle-neck?
Delegating is necessary when running a business, but I didn’t always feel this way.
When I started Jakt over seven years ago, I thought the best way to run my business was for me to make each and every decision. Even when I started hiring people, they would keep on coming to me so that I’d make decisions for them.
I’m not going to lie to you: there was something about it that tickled my ego. I got caught in this trap where I thought I had all the answers. I mean, it’s my company, right?
At the same, it was quicker. When we were a small team, it was just much faster for me to go ahead and make decisions than wait for my employees.
But, as we added more members to our team, I started to realize that there was no way we could scale like this. People were waiting to get to me and for me to make a choice, and I stopped the processes’ flow because I had so many decisions to make.
I was the bottleneck.
I had invested so much effort in making decisions for everyone else that I had employees who weren’t used to taking initiative on their own.
I hadn’t empowered them to think critically and individually. They were used to coming to me for answers — but not to reach their own. And that, in hindsight, limited and capped Jakt’s growth potential. Things had to change… I had to make fewer decisions.
“But they don’t do it like I do it?”
No one will do things the exact same way you do them (I’ll touch on letting go of control later).
And sure, I know pushing decisions back to people might slow you down at first. I also know the results may not be perfect from the jump.
But, you have to be okay with things taking a little longer in the beginning. The truth is, if you don’t make your employees think critically, you’re just creating a larger problem.
Honestly, there are a few reasons:
Because, as your company grew bigger, there is a larger disconnect between you and all day-to-day activities. Back in the day, it was impossible for me to be aware of things that I wasn’t even directly interacting with — how could I make a decision, then?
I also came to the difficult realization that I may not have all the answers. Yeah, believe it or not, your employees may actually make better decisions than you. And they probably will, especially if they are closer to the problem.
I didn’t want to be the one breaking the news to you but, you’re not that special. (Neither am I, by the way). Yes, even if you founded the company. And yes, even if you’re the CEO.
Helping others make their own decisions may be slower in the short-term. But, in the long run, it will develop into a faster, more streamlined process.
And, this starts with…
Letting go of control = Fewer decisions
I totally get that this is not an easy concept to implement — but you just have to do it. It’s super important if your goal is to not have a You-dependent business. There are ways you can help smooth out that transition:
As you know, every business system is comprised of tools, people, and processes. Putting them into place will give your employees the ability to gain context, understand what is needed from them, and clarify their decision-making.
I also began to appreciate that everyone had a different lens in which they look through. It’s only natural that they don’t do things the exact same way I would — but you have to be cool with that!
That’s why it’s so important that you are…
Coaching over directing.
My goal is to involve my team as much as possible —and give them the freedom to grow and be resourceful.
Just a few weeks back, they had to handle a problem that came up. It wasn’t a huge deal, but they just didn’t approach the situation the way I would’ve.
Old me would’ve told them how it “had to be done” —and to deal with it like I said moving forward.
But what would’ve happened?
They would’ve lost their confidence, and they’d be terrified to try something new and take initiative next time. And with good reason.
When you’re coaching instead of directing, you take the time to talk through their decision-making. You can offer feedback, but you don’t want to impose your beliefs on them.
Not all decisions are created equally.
I know you think every decision is important. At least that’s what I thought when I was starting out.
Look, I get it. It’s your business — and no ones gives as much of a fuck about it as you do.
But honestly, 95% of all the choices you make on a daily basis are not make-or-breakers. It’s not that they don’t matter, it’s that you’ll be alright either way.
You can (and should) pass those to your team. They’ll deal with them just as good as you could — and they’ll free up time for you to face the ones that really matter.
Think about it — what are the decisions that will make a bigger impact on your company?
- Who are the people in your leadership/executive team?
What is the vision you want for your company?
What is your long-term strategy?
- What type of culture do you want to foster?
These are your responsibility — and the ones I focus on at Jakt. Within my company, there are hundreds of decisions made every day that I don’t know about. That’s fine. I don’t want to know. These are theirs, and I have mine.
Other than a selected group of monumental decisions, shit’s not going to break without you.
What should you do when people come to you with a decision?
First, do NOT try to give them an answer.
You’d just be further enabling them to come to you over and over again. And you don’t want to reinforce that they’ll get an easy answer from you, right? Instead, push it back to them. Have them make a decision by themselves from now on.
But hey, they must know they have your cover and you have their back. And that you won’t get mad or upset at them if it doesn’t go so well. When you talk to them about it, make sure you are genuinely looking to coach them —not berate them. Otherwise, they won’t try to take initiative next time around.
THAT is how you start building it into your culture.
Took me years and years to learn to make fewer decisions. But I hope you can take this, implement it, and reap the benefits sooner than I did.
- Don’t get caught in the same bottle-neck I did. Delegating is necessary when running a business, and you are stopping the flow by making it You-centric.
- Coaching is not about imposing your way on your employees. It’s about helping them by listening to their perspective and offering non-determinant feedback.
- Understand that all decisions are not created equally. Let go of control and focus on the few decisions that matter the most.