Came across this thoughtful post this week: Leaders Need to Understand the Risk and Trust Relationship. I agree, it is so true: “How can we get staff to make more decisions on their own, they always come to us for answers.” And as the post suggests, employees who are afraid or have trouble making decisions have probably been criticized for making a decision, perhaps making an exception, on their own. Sometimes this has happened before you became the employee’s manager, and sometimes you may have been the one to criticize the employee, causing them to fear making future decisions on their own. Either way, if you are their manager now, it is up to you to help change the behavior. “You have to make them feel safe” in taking risks, and you need to applaud them for doing so—at the same time, discussing why or why not the risk paid off in each particular case.
You need to empower them to make decisions, make exceptions, take risks. In a way I think it is like being a parent, teaching your children to make their own decisions, while teaching them the parameters for good and safe decisions. Or, in a way, perhaps it is like the mama bird teaching her babies and then letting them spread their wings.