Involving Employees in Decision Making is a Key to Employee Engagement
Over the last several years, Peter Barron Stark Companies has surveyed the opinions of over 100,000 employees in companies throughout the United States. Some of the companies we have surveyed have referred to their employees as “employees.” Other organizations have referred to their employees as “associates,” “staff members,” or “team members.” What we have learned is that there is not much correlation between how a company or department refers to their “employees” and overall employee satisfaction. However, there is a direct correlation between how involved employees are in the decision making in their department or team and their overall morale, motivation, and satisfaction with their jobs. Companies and departments who have a higher level of employee involvement in decision making show higher levels of employee motivation and satisfaction.
All managers and supervisors would like everyone to think that they involve employees in the decision making of their department or team. But, if you ask each employee in your department the following five questions in an anonymous survey, would they strongly agree, agree, disagree, or strongly disagree?
- My supervisor seeks my opinion in making decisions that impact our team/department.
- My supervisor puts my ideas or suggestions to use.
- My supervisor allows me/our team to make decisions that impact my/our team’s work.
- My supervisor trusts me.
- My supervisor forgives me if I make a mistake.
There are many benefits of involving employees in the decision making of your company or department. Based on data analysis from employee satisfaction surveys, the following are six of the most important benefits:
- The associates feel they are a valued part of the team. When associates are involved in the decision making, they feel that people in ownership and management positions value them as a significant contributor to the team’s success. When people feel valued, they will usually raise their level of effort and commitment to ensure the department’s or company’s success.
- The associates are able to make better day-to-day decisions because they have accurate information regarding the direction of the company or department. Managers and supervisors who do not share information or involve associates in the decision making are usually the same people who complain that associates are unable to make good decisions.
- The associates feel a stronger bond of responsibility for making the decision. When you are responsible for making a decision, and the decision turns out to be a bad one, you do whatever you can to correct the decision and make things right. The same is true for everyone. When associates are involved in making the decision, the chances of the decision being a success increase since all members of the team are committed to correcting the parts of the decision that are not in alignment with the department’s or company’s vision and values.
- The associates will focus more of their energy on future-oriented problem solving rather than blaming their current problems on management. Associates who have not been involved in making the decision have co-authored some great comments such as, “It wasn’t my decision,” “Whose brilliant idea was this?” or “This will never work in a hundred years.” All of these comments demonstrate two things: First, the employee is not in agreement with the decision and second, when the decision goes wrong, and it will because the associate is not committed to the decision’s success, the employee has someone to blame.
- Morale and motivation is higher in organizations where associates are involved in the department/company’s decision making. When people are involved in the decision making, they know they make a difference to the department’s or company’s success. When people know they make a difference, they find it easier to be motivated and satisfied with their job.
- It frees up a manager’s time to contribute to the department’s success in other areas. When associates are able to make the decisions that impact their work, it frees up the manager or supervisor to work on more future-oriented issues that will ultimately make the department or company even more successful. For example, a manager will now have the time to look at how the department’s or company’s customers are changing their demands and level of expectations. With this new knowledge, the manager can lead a discussion on what changes will have to occur in the next decade to meet the changing customer demands. In addition, managers will have more time for changing procedures and refining processes.
Involving associates sounds easy. It is, but there are some basic philosophical challenges every manager or supervisor must overcome. These are some of the challenges:
- It takes more time up front to involve associates.
- It takes trust on behalf of the manager.
- It takes forgiveness on the part of the manager
Involvement is worth the risk. It results in associates who are dedicated, committed, and who produce greater results…both in quality and in profits…than a group of associates who are not involved. You will be satisfied with the long-term results. Go for it!