Dear manager: Include me in your decisions

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Red Hat's CEO, Jim Whitehurst, begins the sixth chapter his book, The Open Organization, with a sentence that perfectly summarizes a crash course in making inclusive workplace decisions:

"The conventional approach to decision making centers around equipping the responsible person with the information needed to make an informed decision. ... But in the end... the responsible executive makes the decision."

The keyword here being executive.

Throughout the book, Whitehurst focuses on changing our thinking about executives and top-down management, asking us to consider how associates of all levels can participate bottom-up decision making instead. In the book's first five chapters, he tells stories and presents compelling ancedotes to this effect. Then, in chapter six, he delivers the one-two punch: He explains how to make it happen.

What your associates want

  • Respect.
  • A voice.
  • To be heard.
  • Participation in the decisions.

What you want to do

  • Change. (Yes, you, the manager must change first. Then, you can catalyze change in your associates.)
  • Build understanding, trust, and buy-in.
  • Include your associates.
  • Listen. And listen more.
  • Be open to a wide variety of ideas.

How you want to do it

  • Read The Open Organization.
  • Take notes.
  • Talk to the associates with whom you work. Ask them, "What do you think?"
  • Explain your thought process and reasoning for wanting to make changes or particular decisions.
  • Acknowledge people's concerns.
  • Implement methods for input and feedback cycles. (It's a continual process.)
  • Allow people to try different approaches.

Change managment and inclusive decision making may be something you've heard about but have never felt you had the capacity to do in your company. Or maybe this is all brand new and eye-opening. Either way, Whitehurst points out that decision making processes at your organization are pivotal sites for change.

"At Red Hat, we do things differently. We strive for change management to happen during the decision making process, not during execution. feel more ownership in the changes needed when they are involved in making the decision behind them."

You make decisions every day. Your associates make decisions every day. Today—even within the next few momentsyou have a chance to try something different.

Follow the conversation on Twitter #theopenorg

Jen leads a team of community managers for the Digital Communities team at Red Hat. She lives in Raleigh with her husband and daughters, June and Jewel.

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