By Jesse Knapp, IT Operations Manager
Have you ever been hesitant to talk about an important decision? Maybe because it does not seem necessary or it might make you/someone else uncomfortable? I have, and I am ashamed to say that I haven’t always done the right thing in those circumstances.
Here is a simple example: as I am writing this, we are in the process of reworking parts of the IT Support workflow. These changes will impact office employees that contact IT for help, but I have not yet communicated that to the company. I need to let everyone know that we are making changes that will affect their interaction with IT support – changes that may cause frustration.
Please hold for a couple of minutes while I construct an email with this announcement. Ok, done! Business problem solved.
In a more serious example, I’ve been in two circumstances recently where the party was making a decision for/about themselves that would consequently affect others. In one instance, I was making the decision. In the other, I had a front-row seat. In both cases, the decision-makers waited to communicate with those who may be affected until they had already finalized the decision.
These experiences have been eye-opening to me in a way that only real life can be. Over the years, I’ve been told that getting others involved early on rather than late is beneficial. Still, until I had lived through some painful real-life lessons, it didn’t truly sink in.
What have I learned from this? There are benefits in timely, transparent communication with people who will be affected by a decision.
Be Early, Be Open
Communicating our thoughts to others early in the decision-making process will help us make a better and more informed decision. Just as important (or more importantly), it helps those around us that will be affected by the decision to feel involved. It gives them a chance to share any concerns, support, or excitement. They’ll also have time to think about and adjust before a decision occurs, rather than being hit with everything all at once.
Through the decision-making process, we need to communicate openly so that others know what is going on and are well-informed. How often have we made up a story in our minds about what is happening, gotten all worked up, and then realized the real-life situation is nothing like the scenario playing out in our heads? All that worry for nothing. By communicating often, we can make sure others know the facts about what is happening and avert a whoa-what-just-happened crisis later.
Listening & Learning
Of course, this creates a lot more responsibility for the decision-maker. In being open and transparent through the process, I need to be willing to listen and adapt to others’ feedback. I cannot go in with the mindset that I will share what I am doing but not listen to any feedback given in response. Instead, I need to listen to others’ thoughts. Will I be able to incorporate all feedback into my final decision? No, but it does help me to understand others’ points of view so that I can make a better-informed decision.
I have plenty of work to do in being willing to step out, be vulnerable, and share what I’m working on in real-time rather than springing it all on someone after the conclusion. Hopefully, we can all do better and be willing to communicate freely, listen, and seriously consider feedback while in the decision-making process.