In Part I of this series, I examined a portion of a framework for making decisions that match the real needs of the organization. I call such decision-making processes congruent, because the resulting decisions fit the organization. That first part of the framework provides guidance to organizational leaders to ensure consideration of the needs and concerns of all stakeholders. That's fine as far as it goes, but it assumes that stakeholders want to — and know how to — express their needs and concerns, if given the opportunity. In this Part II, I offer a framework for stakeholders to guide them in expressing their needs and concerns in a complete and forthright manner.
This second part of the framework is important, because incongruent decisions can result even if the stakeholders or their representatives are free to express their concerns. For example, if stakeholders ask for more than they need in order to have "room to negotiate" then they deprive the decision-making team of access to the stakeholders' true concerns.
Here are four criteria that stakeholders or their representatives can use to express their concerns in ways that support congruent decision-making.
- Stakeholders express their own true concerns
- Each class of stakeholders has its own concerns, independent of the concerns of others. While it's true that a given stakeholder's concerns might conflict with the concerns of other stakeholders, the decision-makers' task is to resolve such conflicts, balancing conflicting concerns. They can carry out that task effectively only if they understand the true concerns of all stakeholders.
- Stakeholders honor the concerns of other stakeholders
- Stakeholders or their representatives who express their understanding of the concerns of other stakeholders provide invaluable assistance to decision-makers. Decision-makers almost inevitably must balance conflicting concerns. Understanding how different stakeholders see the concerns of other stakeholders is essential to this balancing process. For example, if one set of stakeholders harbors a mistaken view of the concerns of a second set of stakeholders, decision-makers can clarify and resolve the misunderstanding only if they know about it.
- Every Incongruent decisions can result
even if the stakeholders or their
representatives are free
to express their concernsstakeholder has a legitimate role relative to the mission of the enterprise. In expressing their own concerns, stakeholders must honor the roles of other stakeholders appropriately.
- Stakeholders honor the concerns of the enterprise
- The stakeholders in the decision in question have a relationship with the enterprise as a whole. Stakeholders' understanding of the concerns of the enterprise is useful data for decision-makers.
- The enterprise has concerns independent of the direct concerns of any of the stakeholders in the decision in question. Enterprise leadership must make decisions that balance stakeholder concerns, even when those stakeholder concerns are in direct conflict with each other or with the concerns of the enterprise. Stakeholders in the decisions in question must be aware of enterprise concerns, and they must express their understanding of those concerns to decision-makers.
- Stakeholders honor society's concerns
- Society at large also has concerns, but in most cases, society has no means of expressing them as part of the decision process. When we express our own concerns to decision-makers, we must take society's concerns into account. For example, we want our actions to be in compliance with the law, and with societal norms. We might have concerns for the locale, for our nation, or for the global environment.
Finally, decision-makers are stakeholders too. Congruence in decision-making processes requires that decision-makers assume responsibility for their decisions, but they cannot be responsible for incongruence of the stakeholders. When other stakeholders mislead or manipulate decision-makers, they show disregard for decision-makers as people, and incongruent decisions can result. First in this series Top Next Issue
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More articles on Workplace Politics:
- Ten Tactics for Tough Times: II
- When you find yourself in a tough spot politically, what can you do? Most of us obsess about the situation
for a while, and then if we still have time to act, we do what seems best. Here's Part II of a set of
approaches that can organize your thinking and shorten the obsessing.
- What Insubordinate Non-Subordinates Want: II
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your authority, or doesn't comply with policies you rightfully established, you have a hard time carrying
out your responsibilities. Why does this happen?
- Obstacles to Finding the Reasons Why
- When we investigate what went wrong, we sometimes encounter obstacles. Interviewing witnesses and participants
doesn't always uncover the reasons why. What are these obstacles?
- Conversation Despots
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want. Here are some of their tactics.
- Narcissistic Behavior at Work: II
- Narcissistic behavior at work threatens the enterprise. People who behave narcissistically systematically
place their own interests and welfare ahead of anyone or anything else. In this Part II of the series
we consider the narcissistic preoccupation with superiority fantasies.
Forthcoming issues of Point Lookout
- Coming December 12: Effects of Shared Information Bias: II
- Shared information bias is widely believed to lead to bad decisions. But over time, it can erode a group's ability to assess reality accurately. That can lead to a widening gap between reality and the group's perceptions of reality. Available here and by RSS on December 12.
- And on December 19: Embarrassment, Shame, and Guilt at Work: Creation
- Three feelings are often confused with each other: embarrassment, shame, and guilt. To understand how to cope with these feelings, begin by understanding what different kinds of situations we use when we create these feelings. Available here and by RSS on December 19.
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- The Power Affect: How We Express Our Personal Power
- Many people who possess real organizational power have a characteristic demeanor. It's the way they project their presence. I call this the power affect. Some people — call them power pretenders — adopt the power affect well before they attain significant organizational power. Unfortunately for their colleagues, and for their organizations, power pretenders can attain organizational power out of proportion to their merit or abilities. Understanding the power affect is therefore important for anyone who aims to attain power, or anyone who works with power pretenders. Read more about this program.