Decision Making For Dummies
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When you're communicating a decision, you need to know that you have successfully communicated the basic message. You also want everyone on the team to share an understanding of what the target results are so that, in the event that something unexpected happens, everyone knows what to do. The worst time to find out that you and your team are not on the same page is after you've communicated a decision and tasked your team with implementing that decision.

Communication failures take place when

  • The aim of the decision, its purpose, and what is to be accomplished aren't clearly communicated.

  • Expectations aren't made clear. You have expectations for how it should be done and what it should look like, but you fail to take into account your employees' and other stakeholders' views and concerns.

  • The words you use mean different things to different people and are easily misinterpreted. (As the communicators, it's your responsibility to learn what words work and what don't.)

  • Communication doesn't happen often enough, so course corrections are presumed to take place but get missed.

  • You and everyone else assume that the communication has been effective.

Getting your message across effectively is a matter of confirming that all understand the aim or purpose of the decision, as well as what's expected. It's especially important when you're communicating the implementation of an important decision. To offer clear direction to your team, start with gaining clarity on what's going on inside your brain.

Answering these 11 questions enables you to deliver a clear message:

These 11 Questions . . . . . . Elicit these Benefits
1. What is to be accomplished?
2. What is the result and why?
Knowing the answers to these questions enables you to communicate the message effectively to your team.

By doing so, you enable them (1) to improvise independently when there's a need to adapt, and (2) to incorporate new opportunities for attaining the goal as those opportunities arise — without having to gain your permission, which slows things down.
3. What are your expectations for what happens next?
4. Is there anything you don't want your team to do?
5. Is there anything you specifically want your team to do?
Outlining the parameters helps clarify both the expectations and the boundaries for independent or creative thinking.
6. What could possibly go wrong? Or 'What if" . . . this or that happened?
7. If something were to go wrong, what would you expect team members to do?
By anticipating the unexpected, you reduce the risk while simultaneously preparing for it.
8. When do you expect your team, staff, and anyone else involved in the implementation process to communicate to you?
9. What feedback do you need in order to stay abreast of what is happening?
10. How do you want to hear about unexpected surprises — through a phone call or email, or at project update meetings?
Keep your team apprised of new developments so that they aren't working in the dark. Agree on when they need to keep you informed on how implementation is proceeding, whether it's good or bad news.
11. If you were the one listening to your message rather than delivering it, what else would you want to know? Putting yourself in your team's shoes allows you to take a vague bit of direction and make it more clear and specific. You can also identify relevant information you need to communicate throughout the project.

About This Article

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About the book author:

Dawna Jones generates imaginative insights and applies 25 years experience in helping businesses and organizations make bold decisions. She co-designs the future of organizations, transforming them from "business-as-usual" to inclusive cultures of prosperity.

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