Some time ago, I was advising a person in his first steps on a leadership role, and it came up one of the most difficult issues in management, especially for young professionals: you can’t make everyone happy with your decisions.
Decision making is one of the main entrusted responsibilities companies place on managers, confident that they will do what is best for their departments and the company.
There are many techniques to improve your decision making. You can strive to collect all the necessary information, gather a team of specialists to provide you with options or you can even perform some statistical verifications to be sure that you are taking the right decision. But here, I will speak about what comes after we make the decision.
Everyone enjoys watching leaders on TV or movies that are smart and loved by their followers and in the same line, everybody wants to be loved by their people. This is probably what leads some managers, especially in the early stages of their career, to make their decisions based on what their people will think, trying to make everybody happy.
To be clear with this issue, as soon as a manager starts making his decisions based on what his followers will think or whether they will like them or not, he will be in serious trouble.
The sad reality is that you can’t make everyone happy. Every time you decide to change something, some people will embrace those changes and others will not like them. So, if you try to make decisions based on that, you will lose no matter what you do.
We can consider our personnel’s desires in our decisions, but only as factor and not as the main criterion. If we end up with two solutions that are equally appropriate, we can choose the one that has less negative impact on our people, but if there is a clear best solution, we need to put it into practice no matter who’s going to be upset about it.
So, the best you can do is to focus on the solution and be as fair as possible. Factor in all the possible variables while you are analysing the situation and of course, include your people’s wellbeing along with your company interests and the problem particularities to make the best choice.
It is worth mentioning that there are situations when your decisions will indeed affect negatively your people and in those extreme cases, their interests would take a bigger part in your decision making process.
All in all, the key in this matter is to focus in doing the right thing without focusing in what your people will say about it. Try to take measures to minimise their resistance to change and at the moment of implementing the decision, focus in communicating it as effectively as possible to make things clear from the start.
Finally, don’t worry if people complain about some of your decisions, listen to their opinion but at the same time be confident about your good judgement. In the long term, if your are a good person, treat them with respect and encourage them to be better professionals and persons, the effect of your decision will be only circumstantial and you will end up being a great leader.