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  • Writer's pictureRiikka

Decision-making is at the heart of lower hierarchy

Updated: Jun 4, 2021

Is your vision to build a⁠

🐬 Flat⁠

🐬 Agile⁠

🐬 Empowered⁠

🐬 Adult

🐬 Self-managed⁠


There are various concepts to describe a world where employees are trusted as capable, autonomous adults, with businesses continuing to move away from management⁠ styles designed for factories.

I see a lot of companies talking about it and aiming for that direction. Are you one of them? If so, a good place to start is looking at DECISION-MAKING.

In many situations we're holding onto the comfort blanket of leaders doing all the thinking; approvals; checks; senior managers swooping in with random opinions and so on.

Which means more pressure on already overwhelmed managers, less initiative and motivation from employees.⁠

⁠Look at your ROLES with the principle of giving people areas of ⁠

💼 ownership where they can make decisions and carry them out without approvals and second-guessing from anyone.

Look at your BOTTLENECKS. When do things start going back and forth. What requires approval. What sort of things do people come to managers for.

🧞 What's the worst that could happen? Remove some of those stoppers.

Of course it's not about making decisions off the top of your head in isolation. Some, especially less experienced people may need guidance on

🗂️ consulting and getting advice from others. To understand the impact on and requirements of other teams and clients, as relevant, do research, gauge alternate views.⁠

But once you've considered the right information you go ahead and ⁠

🔮 make the decision.⁠ Nobody needs to validate it.

To be successful with reducing hierarchy and increasing autonomy this way, it requires:

✏️ Clarity on boundaries. What are the types of decisions where a person must consult a colleague or get e.g. financial approval.⁠

✏️ People to be connected and understand the organisation and business. 'This decision will impact on customers and product so I need to discuss with those teams'.⁠

✏️ Responsibilities to follow people's level of competence. It's not about putting someone in charge of an area that they genuinely aren't ready for.

But put in place the support for people to build more confidence and autonomy. Coaching helps to learn to make better decisions, assess risks and trust yourself.⁠


For us leaders, this means getting comfortable at letting go. Allowing a certain amount of risk. Accepting that a decision may not be the one we would have made.⁠

* ⁠

At Companies in Balance we help clients like you to design roles and organisation structures for the modern world and would be delighted to talk! 🙋🏻‍♀️

Photo by Victoriano Izquierdo on

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