AMI’s Drew McLellan teaches a decision making matrix that will help agency owners and leaders get just the right amount of input, no matter what the decision.

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Today, I want to talk about decision-making inside your agency. I’m Drew McLellan from Agency Management Institute, and unfortunately I do not offer you a beautiful ocean view this week. But I am in a beautiful city. I’m in Denver, Colorado, and I’m getting ready to do some strategic planning with an agency, and one of the things we’re going to talk about is, how we make decisions inside that agency. And you know what, for a lot of agency owners, this is sort of an achilles heel, that we want very much for everyone to be engaged in our agency, to have a voice in the agency, but as a result, sometimes we’re not very clear about the kind of decision that needs to be made or the level of participation that our team gets to have in that decision-making. And often times, we default to everybody gets a vote on everything. And depending on your agency’s size, that can be a small problem or it can be a huge problem. It can be a quagmire that you get stuck in and you can’t move forward. So I want to teach you today a really simple hack that will help you make better decisions, quicker, more appropriately, and make sure that the team is onboard with how the decision’s being made. That’s actually why I think this is really problematic for a lot of agencies, is that the employees believe that they have a right to have a vote in everything. And honestly, we’ve created that culture by often giving them a vote in things that perhaps they shouldn’t have had a vote in. So, I am strongly encouraging you to use what I call the three levels of decision-making. And I would teach your team these levels, and before I would talk about a decision we would have to make, I would declare what level of decision-making is about to happen. So let me give you an example. :Hey everybody, we have to make a decision on what we’re doing for the holiday party, that’s a level three decision. And what a level three decision means is that I’m going to, or someone else is going to, describe exactly what needs to be decided, we’re going to discuss it, and we’re all going to vote. And very democratically, whatever vote wins, that’s the decision we’re going to make moving forward.” A level two decision is, “hey everybody, might be the leadership, might be the whole agency, we have a decision to make, this is a level two decision. I am going to describe the decision, I am going to describe some of the options, we’re going to discuss them, I very much want your feedback. And then I’m going to take all of that input, all of that feedback and I’m going to make a decision as the owner or the leader, and I will let you know what that decision is.” Or, a level one decision which is, “Hey everybody, I own the joint, and I have made a decision, here’s what we’re doing in terms of healthcare or what we’re doing in terms of unlimited PTO, or whatever it may be. But this is a decision that I as an owner need to make on my own, and I am announcing the decision, not what the discussion should be.” If you start to employ the level one, two, and three decision-making in all of your conversations, and you use it to set the expectations on the front end of any discussion, I think you’re going to find a couple of things. Number one, your team is open to having different levels of participation. Number two, it begins to correct the misperception that everybody gets a vote in everything, which is impossible in an agency. And number three, it gives you both the courage and the authority to make the decisions that you need to make on your own without always asking for everybody’s input. So give it a try, a level one, a level two, and a level three decision. I think you’re going to be surprised at how effective this tool is. Talk to you next week.

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