Six Ways to Train Your Team to Make Smart Decisions Fast

Article main image
Sep 17, 2015
This article is part of a series called Editor's Pick.

Senior leaders can’t be everywhere all the time, and when their direct reports can’t make a decision without asking them first, they risk losing the client or prospect’s attention, slowing down a process, or not coming across as a strong, effective leader within their teams.

I was told early on in my career that making decisions quickly was crucial, not solely to move processes along, but because of how you are viewed by the team or a client.

If you waffle and can’t make an immediate decision, you may not be seen as a strong leader.

How to get employees to make decision fast

Here are tips on how to train employees to make decisions fast:

  1. Go with your gut — Regardless if it’s the right or wrong answer, it’s important that employees make a decision. Once they’ve thought it through, they should trust their gut reaction. Remember though, in most situations, time is of the essence. If they’re unsure, make an educated guess and think the situation through before opening their mouths. If they have experience in the role and know what they’re doing to some degree, that gut reaction typically turns out to be right. So, I tell my team (I lead a team of 15 sales people, and 50 plus recruiters), to do that. Go with your gut.
  2. Don’t fear failure — If they make the wrong decision, it is what it is. It’s better to make a decision than not if working with a client, vendor, or co-worker. They can’t be afraid to make the wrong decision, and if they’ve been trained, they shouldn’t be so far off that it will cost them their job.
  3. Play scenario-land – When running through issues, scenarios or projects with an employee, ask what-if questions to role play different approaches to situations that may pop up. Throw in bizarre ones as well as ones that have repeatedly happened. Practice all the possibilities and then recap each scenario afterwards. Also have managers of other teams role play with them too to get a variety of interactions.
  4. Provide autonomy — Empower employees to make the decisions on their own (when they are trained and ready, of course). Instill in them to ask for forgiveness not permission. If their response wasn’t the best, debrief after and discuss why. If managers are handholding employees through the interactions they have, they will never learn.
  5. Provide exposure — Managers should have their staff sit in on other team meetings at the company. That way, they can learn different approaches to solving problems and take note of what they liked, and what they didn’t. Managers should also take employees with them on meetings, or listen in on a phone call, and then recap what happened and why. Showing is always better than telling.
  6. Share failures — Create an environment where mistakes are looked at as learns, and when they are made, teach them what the instinct should have been. Even when good decisions are made, look at where the fork in the road was, and what the negative outcome could have been, and what interaction or response would have taken them that route. The team should also share their failures to learn from one another because it’s the fastest way someone without any experience can gain some.
This article is part of a series called Editor's Pick.
Get articles like this
in your inbox
Subscribe to our mailing list and get interesting articles about talent acquisition emailed weekly!