Facilitating Inclusive Decision-Making in the Workplace

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Unless you really stop and think about it, it’s easy to underestimate how many decisions—large and small—go into running a business. Nearly every project, guideline, initiative and policy arise as the result of a conscious decision by one or more people within an organization. Ergo, these decision-making processes are vitally important to the performance of any business.

As one Forbes contributor notes, it’s a “strategic imperative that decision-making is more broadly delegated to include a wider set of employee perspectives” because diversity and inclusivity “improve decisions and thus business performance.”

The flip side of this equation is that faulty decision-making can easily hamper performance. If decisions come from the top down exclusively, employees will likely disengage because they feel their opinions don’t matter. If the same group of people disproportionately affect outcomes, organizations will miss out on the benefits of drawing from a wide range of perspectives.

Facilitating inclusive decision-making in the workplace is imperative for both better business outcomes and company culture as it relates to employee morale. Here’s more.

The Importance of Inclusive Decision-Making

Inclusive decision-making is equitable for employees; it takes into account that every individual within a company brings a unique point-of-view to the table. But it’s also valuable in terms of a business’s bottom line.

Here’s what one consultant has to say about inclusive decision-making processes for Harvard Business Review: “I have learned there is incredible value when we get our associates involved in creating the solutions rather than just expecting them to execute on whatever management has decided they should do.”

The key word here is value. More diverse feedback drives deeper discussion. It pulls into the fold a variety of professional experiences and expertise that shape outcomes for the better. It allows space for potentially marginalized or underrepresented points of view. People become more invested in outcomes when they played a direct role in their creation.

Ideas for Making Decision-Making More Inclusive

So, boosting inclusivity in decision-making sounds like a no-brainer in theory. But how can organizations put this important principle into practice to start reaping the benefits?

First of all, consider what’s currently hindering employees from contributing honest feedback. The solution could be as simple as switching up your strategy for collecting insights. Consider the difference between asking people to raise their hands and verbally offer suggestions in a meeting vs. allowing employees to vote anonymously in an online poll.

The former method disproportionately favors outspoken employees, as well as those with overt seniority within the company. While these employees’ suggestions are absolutely valid, it’s unlikely they represent the entire breadth of opinion. Employees who don’t get a chance to speak up—or don’t feel comfortable doing so in a given environment—miss out on the opportunity to contribute.

Anonymous online polling, on the other hand, is an interactive way to level the playing field. Today’s audience response systems allow employees to use their mobile devices or computers to respond to multiple-choice questions, submit their own comments/questions and upvote others’ responses to show their support. The result? Organizations end up with a wider pool of more candid feedback, while employees get the satisfaction of contributing to decision-making in real time.

The Bottom Line

It’s worth asking: What is your organization currently doing to facilitate inclusive decision-making in the workplace? By changing your approach to how you’re collecting feedback, you can improve its quality and impact on your operations.

Furthermore, you’ll demonstrate your commitment to making decisions based on diverse, comprehensive input—something that goes a long way in uplifting company culture for the betterment of everyone.

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