Involving employees in decisions that affect them and their work is crucial to capturing the human spirit in the workplace. Leaders, however, often resist involving employees in day-to-day affairs.
Such reluctance stems in large part from leaders’ perceptions of both themselves and their employees.
Because they were promoted into a position of leadership (and their employees were not), mangers often unconsciously assume that they must be smarter, more creative, better decision-makers, etc. than their employees. And many therefore feel that involving employees would introduce inferior ideas into deliberations and unnecessarily slow the decision-making process.
The human knowledge base, however, indicates just the opposite. Research has shown that involvement is one of the most effective ways of tapping the collective intelligence of an organization.
One study, for example, indicated that with basic training in consensus decision-making techniques (collaborative leadership, flexible patterns of communication, cooperative problem solving, etc.) a group-crafted solution is superior to the best solution of any individual member some 75 percent of the time.
Put simply, involving employees in decision-making processes will yield better results three times out of four, even if a leader actually is smarter, more creative, and a more capable decision-maker than her or his employees.
Group decision-making does not “average out” the talents and capacities of individual members, pulling down the top and raising the bottom. Rather, it multiplies those capabilities.
Far from detracting from the efficacy of the decision-making process, it generates possibilities and open horizons that none of the participants would have come to on his or her own. And as leaders become ever more dependent on the specialized and technical knowledge of their employees, involvement will become less a choice than a necessity.