Are you making the best decisions in your organization?

William Fleming, PharmD, is President, Clinical and Pharmacy Solutions, at Humana. He recently posted this piece on his LinkedIn blog.

Look to your talent, tone, and touchpoints

Every outcome in every organization is in some way, shape, or form the byproduct or result of decision-making. Sometimes decisions are relatively small and self-limiting, like a drop in a bucket, while others are like powerful waves that can take you to new heights or threaten to drown you. Ultimately, our decisions – good, bad, or indifferent – have an effect, so it’s important to take care in who we hire to make them (talent), the backdrop culture that supports them (tone), and where they fit in the overall architecture of impact (touchpoints).

Recently, I was reminded of the importance of decisions and, like so many insights in life, my wake-up call came after a not-so-great one. As leaders, we often encourage our teams to act quickly to ensure that our business doesn’t lose ground. “Test, fail, and scale!” is the mantra of the day, and we bolt at rapid speed to keep up with technological advances and the demands of the market. There is certainly merit to that approach. However, it is not the only nor always the best approach. Sometimes, it behooves us to put on the brakes, slow the pace, or even retract. It’s a balancing act, and if we do not have the right people at the right juncture points to effectively evaluate the situation, those crashing waves will be upon us.

Equally as important as who we’ve pegged to be our pivotal decision-makers is the type of climate in which they work. This is not just the overall corporate culture we set and maintain but the pockets of subculture that lie deep within our organization that may dictate behavior. Which teams are “on the clock”? Which ones have quotas or time demands? Which people are on the “front lines” and may have higher stress or turnover? By the very nature of their work, these groups may operate with hastier, higher-pressure decision-making or be so focused on the immediate that the forest becomes obscured by the trees. While not cause for concern in and of itself, it’s important to pay as much attention to these functions as our more “strategic” ones – especially when the decision touchpoints get closer and closer to our customer.

I often say that, especially in these areas, we need people who say, “no!” as much as people who say, “go!” This means establishing that perfect blend of individuals with personalities well-matched to their roles and a genuine belief that they are empowered – even if it means voicing an opinion that’s in the minority … even if it means halting a process or project for more thoughtful scrutiny … even if it means making an unpopular decision for the sake of the greater good. We must make them not only feel “safe” in speaking up but commend them for doing it.

 “We need people who say, ‘no!’ as much as people who say, ‘go!’”

Without a doubt, we all look at the numbers – the very obvious quantitative metrics that often drive what we do. However, we’d be remiss to ignore our ever-important customer experiences – the high touchpoints – which are just as easily shaped by our choices and speak to our ultimate success and longevity. If we get the right people in the right seats (who care and are curious) and set them up within the right decision-making guardrails (our tone and expectations), we will all rise together. Carefully choosing our decision-makers is one of the most important decisions we’ll ever make.

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