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Make Better Business Decisions
by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan, and Al Switzler
According to leadership experts Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan, and Al Switzler, "Crucial Conversations" are those tough, day-to-day interactions in which the stakes are high, people have conflicting views, and emotions run strong. The surprising thing about these conversations is that they often occur when least expected whether in the boardroom or by the water cooler. Mastering them can transform businesses and careers, strengthen teams, increase productivity, and boost the bottom line.
The two riskiest times in crucial conversations tend to be at the beginning and at the end. The beginning is risky because you have to find a way to create safety or else things go awry. The end is dicey because if you aren’t careful about how you clarify the conclusion and decisions, you can run into violated expectations later on.
When you're considering how to make better business decisions, it helps to have a way of talking about the available options. There are four common ways of making decisions: command, consult, vote, and consensus. These four options represent increasing degrees of involvement. Increased involvement, of course, brings the benefit of increased commitment along with the curse of decreased decision-making efficiency.
In strong teams and great relationships, many decisions are made by turning the final choice over to someone we trust to make a good decision.
When choosing among the four methods of decision making consider the following questions.
1. Who cares? Determine who genuinely wants to be involved in the decision along with those who will be affected. These are your candidates for involvement. Don't involve people who don't care.
2. Who knows? Identify who has the expertise you need to make the best decision. Encourage these people to take part. Try not to involve people who contribute no new information.
3. Who must agree? Think of those whose cooperation you might need in the form of authority or influence in any decisions you might make. It's better to involve these people than to surprise them and then suffer their open resistance.
4. How many people is it worth involving? Your goal should be to involve the fewest number of people while still considering the quality of the decision along with the support that people will give it. Ask: "Do we have enough people to make a good choice? Will others have to be involved to gain their commitment?"
A crucial conversation about your decision-making practices can resolve many frustrating issues.
What do you do when talking turns tough?
When conversations become crucial—when the stakes grow high, opinions differ, and emotions run strong—what tactics do you typically revert to in order to navigate the discussion effectively? Are you a masterful communicator or a danger to dialogue? Take the following quiz to find out your style under stress and learn what skills and tactics you need to master in order to improve the way you communicate in even the most crucial conversations.
STYLE UNDER STRESS TEST
Before you start, read through the following points:
Relationship. Before you get started, think about the relationship you want to improve—with your boss, coworker, direct report, friend, or family member—and keep this relationship in mind.
Circumstance. Next, think of a tough situation—one that you might have handled poorly or avoided altogether.
Apply. Now, with that situation in mind, respond to the following statements as either true or false.
Score a 1 for each false answer and tally up the number of points you received. If you scored:
9 – 10 Dialogue wonder. Keep it up.
7 – 9 Good Job, but you can still use some work. Brush up on your crucial conversations skills.
4 – 7 In need of skills. You’re about average, so improving you crucial conversations could help you get unstuck.
0 – 3 Don’t leave the house. Before you do anything else, learn how to hold crucial conversations.
Many more articles in Communications in The CEO Refresher Archives