This month’s EMS Dashboard Confessional was submitted anonymously, with no other information:
“The mistake I made was believing that by allowing employees to have a say in decision-making, through surveys and voting, that I would achieve acceptance of decisions and “peace in the valley.” What I learned was that, no matter the decision, those who don’t get exactly what they want will feel no obligation to accept the wishes of others, and the fact that “the boss” went along with the majority opinion buys the boss nothing. Lesson learned!”
“Leadership is multi-faceted,” says Raphael Barishansky. “We have to look at this issue in the context of the greater relationship between management and employees. It’s important to ensure that all voices are heard, but this is not the only way that we obtain buy-in from staff.”
Michelle Kobayashi agrees. “Buy-in is more than offering ‘fair’ methods like surveys and voting. Team members buy in when they trust their leaders and the decisions that are being made. One way to build this trust is to take the time to speak to team members one-on-one and listen to what they have to say. Even if there’s only time to meet with informal leaders, they’re the ones that have their finger on the pulse and will either support the decision or stand in its way.”
Michelle and Ray are completely on-point here. I often recommend Simon Sinek’s book ’Start With Why’ because of how important it is to explain why we are doing things to obtain collective support. I also want to know if this leader set the lane markers for the surveys and voting, to make sure that the majority made decisions that were keeping with the organization’s goals and values? What were the topics being decided by the committee? Were these topics that were appropriately delegated to a committee, or should those decisions have been made more collaboratively?
The greater question remains about what else did he or she do outside surveys and voting to obtain support from the greater group. Relying on simple majority rule will always leave the minority feeling disenfranchised, so that can never be the only answer to establishing a shared organizational commitment. Good managers are consistent, competent, and have integrity. Leaders have a vision, and communicate that vision to the group.