One of the books I read a couple years back talked about how to manage a team productively – I believe it was called The 7 Dysfunctions of a Team; it was a fantastic book actually. I could be pulling this info from a book that I read during the same time-frame, so forgive me if I’m assigning credit to the wrong place.
It suggested having an open forum for everyone to discuss what they think should happen before any major changes/systems were implemented. After everyone’s had their say, the leader could then basically make any decision he or she wanted whether it included the team’s perspectives or not. The idea being that since everyone was heard, they would feel included in the decision regardless of whether that’s true, and be more likely to move as a cohesive group.
Now, having applied this principle, I know it actually works. Basically I thought about a problem my team was facing and what needed to change to get us moving in the right direction again. I figured out a plan that would theoretically work, and then I brought it to the group. I said something along the lines of, “here are the results we’re seeing and why they are not good. This and this are the problems that need to be fixed. Here is my plan. How do you think we should move forward with this?” If their ideas fit, I’d add them in. If they didn’t, I’d table them for later.
The problem with this is that it takes forever to get going. Sometimes you don’t have the time. And it really doesn’t apply well to situations that don’t have a clear leader.
And really, your opinion doesn’t always matter. In fact, it often doesn’t. It’s good to have one and to share it with people, but some situations really just call for you to shut your mouth. And diluting a solid plan to make sure everyone is happy often results in a plan that doesn’t perform satisfactorily.
Overall, this is a great technique. If you watch out for the integrity of your plan when listening to others, it’s a great way to get everyone on board for a change. And we all know how difficult that can be!