The Decision Tree

There’s a reason why “micromanage” is often considered a dirty word. The idea that a single leader can handle every aspect of a task, down to the smallest detail, is truly a myth. Even if someone could handle it all themselves, it would result in the crowding out of other team members.

Micromanagement will only create a team culture of followers, with no one able to provide suggestions or feedback in a meaningful way. It also greatly reduces the ability to have leaders-in-training, since there’s no room for them to grow.

A team leader is responsible for creating a culture where this kind of behavior isn’t needed. Remember: it is important to “Trust and Empower” your team members. By building a team culture that places collaboration over ego, micromanagement won’t even appear to most as an option — which is as it should be. A balanced team, working and collaborating on a task together, will always create better output.

Where to begin? One simple, yet effective, tool to use is the Decision Tree.

Decision tree

It is a tree diagram in the shape of a pyramid which outlines who makes what decisions at each level.

Team leaders can empower their team members to work on the details of a task best suited for their position while leaving long-term strategy to senior level staff. It doesn’t have to be followed rigidly, but it gives everyone the “lane” they should be staying in, and it discourages micromanagement. As long as the tree has the right shape, things will flow properly from top levels of leadership downward, and vice versa.

Be sure to include your team in the process of building the Decision Tree, making sure that everyone’s unique talents and abilities are best utilized. That said, any kind of criteria can be used to determine who goes where on the tree: it can be based on a schedule or budget, or logistics, and so on.

Once you get the Decision Tree up, bring it to life.  Light the tree and see what happens.

It’s one of the best gifts you can give your team, and with your personal commitment, it will endure far beyond your watch.  Enjoy the journey!

based on material originally published as Lighting the Decision Tree12/12/2016