10 Ways To Help Employees Make Better Decisions

CatEmployees need to make their own decisions.

As the manager, you can’t be there all the time to make decisions for the team. You have to foster a situation where they feel empowered to make choices.

Obviously you want the team to make good decisions. There will be times when they do something you don’t agree with, but it is possible to foster a situation where they make decisions that are always better and better.

Here are a few tips to help ensure the success of your team.

1. Create A BHAG

A BHAG is a term from Jim Collins that stands for Big Hairy Audacious Goal. Collins found that successful companies all had a BHAG during their most successful periods. He also found that when struggling or stagnant companies found a BHAG to implement that they often got back on track.

Obviously there are other factors, but the BHAG is one of the central themes in successful companies.

When it comes to decision making, a BHAG gives all employees a north star of sorts to guide them.

From top to bottom, when there is a BHAG, every employee should have a good idea of the correct decision. When they have a decision to make they can mentally see how the choices fit with the BHAG and choose accordingly.

2. Define Deal Breakers

Many people have deal breakers with relationships. Meet someone. Get to know them. When things begin getting serious you discuss each other’s deal breakers. Both large and small.

Companies often have the same type of situation with employees. If a core value at your company is promptness, for example, then someone that is consistently late is violating the deal breaker. You fire them and move on.

When deal breakers are clear, your team will have another guiding light to help them make decisions. About employees. About customers. About partners and vendors.

3. Set The Standard With Your Actions

Your team may listen to some of what you say, but they will pay attention to 100% of your actions. They will emulate much of what you do. Some will question a few of your actions. But they will all be watching your every move and using those moves to gauge how they should make decisions.

It’s not an easy thing to lead by example. But the best and most successful leaders are usually the most aware of this fact and act accordingly as much as possible.

4. Intention Over Correctness

You can get into trouble when you stress the correct decision. Obviously you want employees to make the right choices, but it’s not possible to do it 100% of the time.

Interestingly, if you focus on employee intent when making decisions, they seem to be able to make the correct decision much of the time. Even more than if you stress the right decision.

I read a study awhile ago about how people over 70 struggle with decisions. The hypothesis was that their mental faculties didn’t allow for fast thinking. But the findings actually showed that it was due to fear of making the wrong decision.

We all struggle with that. Focus on finding employees with the correct intent. If they follow that guideline they will feel less stressed and make more good choices.

5. Set Limitations

I’ve read a number of biographies about musicians. Many of them were most successful early in their careers. Many struggled in the later parts of their careers.

There are a few factors, but a big one was that as musicians gained success that they often had fewer barriers on their creativity and decision making. As a result, they would get lost in the forest when making new music. They would sit in studios for months and years. They’d have access to every instrument and sound available and they couldn’t make any decisions.

This was opposed to early in their careers when they often had just one instrument to use. The barrier, very few resources, brought out the most creativity.

Obviously you don’t want to give your team nothing to work with. But don’t give them everything.

6. Use The Half-Full Bucket Rule

Don’t let your team keep adding things to their plates. Don’t pile too many tasks on them. Use The Half-Full Bucket Rule for life and for business. Set real priorities. Limit how much you take on. The more you add the more you limit the ability of your team to make decisions.

7. Practice Learning Mindset

You have to set the example with this one. Always be willing to learn new things. From what you read. From what you experience. Even from what you’re employees are doing.

You want your employees to always be curious about new ways of doing things. As they learn they will have more tools to allow them to make better decisions.

8. WW( )D

I was listening to an interview with a former pro golfer. His most success came in the ’90s. He grew up idolizing Jack Nicklaus. He said that when he was on tour as a young man that he had to learn how to act. How to treat fans. How to treat volunteers. Everything.

That’s a lot of pressure especially if you’re not used to that level of responsibility.

He said the thing that helped him the most was always thinking about what Jack would do. When the young pro was presented with a choice he would think about Jack and then decide. He said it worked nearly 100% of the time.

Fill in the blank of WW( )D. Who can your employees think about when they are making decisions? You? Another top employee with impeccable morals?

9. Don’t Overcoach

Nick Saban is one of the most successful coaches in history. He said that one of the best lessons he learned was not to overcoach players. The reasoning is that you coach a player on what to do, but then you allow them to experience things on their own and make their own decisions.

This allows them to learn how to think for themselves and decide for themselves. Saban can’t be on the field with his players making decisions for them. He teaches to a point and then allows them to build the skill of decision making.

10. What’s The Worst That Can Happen (if it kills the company, don’t do it)

This is a good question to ask yourself in regular life. It helps deal with anxiety. It can also be a good question to consider when making decisions for your company.

When presented with a decision, ask what the worst outcome is. If it’s not too bad then maybe try it. If it could possible derail the company, don’t do it. Under just about any circumstances.


Decision making occurs in all businesses. Some employees make the wrong choices. Some freeze up and kick the can down the road. Others have the tools, provided by their company leaders, to make choices with good intent and often choose the best option. How is your company setup to ensure the best choices?

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