Magazine article Supervisory Management

Decision Making: When Not to Involve Employees

Magazine article Supervisory Management

Decision Making: When Not to Involve Employees

Article excerpt

Decision Making: When Not to Involve Employees

IN GENERAL, IT MAKES SENSE TO INVOLVE EMPLOYEES IN decision making. It ordinarily ensures commitment, builds teamwork, and fosters employees' career development. Yet there are times when a supervisor must leave employees out of the process. These guidelines explain when exclusion is called for--and why.

Supervisors are usually encouraged to involve employees in meaningful decision making, especially when the matter concerns working conditions. Such involvement can often yield higher job satisfaction and greater commitment. There are situations, however, when it is prudent for supervisors to make decisions without worker input. Following are some reasons:

On one's own

Lack of skill. When the perceived level of conceptual skill is insufficient for the decision to be made, no employee involvement is necessary. If such decisions are likely to be made again and again, however, then some training might allow the activity to become routine for the employee, thus freeing the supervisor for other responsibilities.

Insufficient time. In all work settings, there are situations demanding the supervisor's immediate attention. Quick, insightful decisions are needed. In these instances, employee involvement could delay task completion. While participative decision making often yields positive results, there is one escapable limitation: In the short run it takes longer. One hallmark of an effective supervisor is knowing when to invest the additional time by involving employees in the process.

Supervisor-employee differences. It is inappropriate for a supervisor to involve an employee in differences that may exist between that supervisor and another worker. The resolution of interpersonal conflicts goes with the supervisor's territory. Should the supervisor need advice in dealing with a difficult employee, seeking counsel from his or her manager is a preferable approach.

Performance appraisals. Normally, a supervisor would not involve employees in any decision involving the performance or pay of other employees. Even in those isolated situations where peer review is part of the appraisal process, any recommendations by employees are tentative. The supervisor or manager should ultimately make appraisal decisions based on the collected data without assistance from other workers.

Targeted projects. Consider this example: A manager gives a supervisor a specific task to perform personally, providing the supervisor with the necessary authority and resources to execute the task. …

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