Things for organizations to try: Improving Influence decisions

Most people are happier and more motivated when they have influence over important decisions in their work.

Things for organizations to try: Improving Influencing Decisions

1. Use the seven levels of delegation

Some leaders delegate everything and others very little. We can use the seven levels of delegation identified by Jugen Appelo to help us navigate and find the right balance of delegation for both organizations and individuals.

How to do it:

  • Discuss the seven levels of delegation Jugen Appelo identifies in his book: Tell, Sell, Consult, Agree, Advise, Inquire, and Delegate.
  • Simply talking about the seven levels of delegation will be an act of influence for everyone. Take a moment to recognize this!
  • Remind everyone that we thrive when we have the freedom to influence the decisions we rate as most important to us.
  • Write out the key decision areas in your organization (from strategy to hiring to office decor) and then agree which level of delegation is best for each.
  • Consider: The sort of decisions teams want to be told about. The things that teams would like to advise on. Things the team would like fully delegated to them.
  • Remember: people don’t have to be involved in everything - just the most relevant decisions!

2. Leaderless decisions

If people are frustrated by the length of time it takes to make a decision or leaders seem overwhelmed, try redesigning how decisions are made. Leaderless decisions can take the pressure off and feel empowering.

How to do it:

  • Try using an "advice process", which allows anyone in the organization to make a decision, as long as they consult affected parties and people with expertise on the subject.
  • Employees shouldn’t be required to follow all the advice they receive, but should integrate all the thinking they collect into the decision they make.
  • Ownership of the decision should stay with the person making the decision, so responsibility for its success isn’t diluted.
  • Be clear that leaders have an important role to play in sharing advice; they often have important experience to share.
  • Ensure leaders resist the urge to pull rank; remind them they can’t see all the perspectives and insights the decision-maker is receiving.
  • If the advice process is thorough, employees should trust the decisions that flow from it.

3. Results only working

Allow employees the freedom to decide when, where and how to do their work, and only hold them accountable for results. This style is often referred to as a Results Only Workplace Environment (ROWE).

How to do it:

  • Communicate the benefits of ROWE to the organization so everyone understands that people who are accountable are usually more productive.
  • Have clear macro goals for employees and let people work out the details for themselves. E.g. you might say “be on the shop floor from nine to five” but not “John has to work in this department doing a stock take.”

Case studies

Richard Semler pioneered the principles of ROWE to change his family business. His story, and advice on how to do it, can be found in his book Maverick: The Success Story Behind the World's Most Unusual Workplace. GAP trialed ROWE, resulting in improvements in engagement, work-life balance, productivity and product quality. Employee turnover also plummeted from 18%, down to 5%.