One of the best ways to raise and maintain morale in an organization is to find that "sweet spot" between managers/leaders being willing and able to make decisions and employes having a voice, being heard, and having influence. When an organization is off balance, either toward a dictatorship tendency among leaders or through an over emphasis on consensus and employee entitlement, bad things happen, including low morale, resentment, lack of buy-in, poor decisions, resistance to change, an entitlement attitude among employees, wasted time, apathy and more.
One of the best ways to keep things balanced is for leaders and teams to learn how to use the six decision-making styles (be sure to also check out the principles below). The teams I've seen use this most effectively have learned the model together - both leaders and their employees - and practiced it regularly by making clear which decision-making style is being used at the time. Two organizations I work with have even permanently printed the chart below right on the back of their weekly meeting agendas!
DECISION MAKING OPTIONS
FOR PARTICIPATORY MANAGEMENT
LEADER DECIDES GROUP DECIDES
STYLE #1 STYLE #4
Decide and Tell Vote
Ask for a paraphrase to make Leader has one vote and
sure you have been clear. gives up veto power
STYLE #2 STYLE #5
Partial Consultive Consensus
Make a tentative or partial decision, Each person has had a chance to
get ideas from the group, then decide. influence the decision, and all have
agreed to support the final decision.
STYLE #3 STYLE #6
Solicit ideas and recommendations, Be clear about parameters
then decide. of freedom.
1. Leader decides how to decide.
2. Leader states which style is being used - makes style choice clear to all involved.
(Probably the MOST important principle!)
3. Tell the truth about the style you are using. (For example, don't "disguise" your
style #1 decisions as "partial consultive" or "consultive" decision.)
4. If the leader doesn’t state which style is being used...ask!
5. Honor the group’s role of using their influence with you. If you're using style #'s 2
or 3, truly listen to your group's input.
6. Honor leader's role in leading and making decisions.
7. All styles are effective in different situations: develop your flexibility.
8. Give the leader feedback regarding his/her decision making choices.