Pop the bubble: the value of inclusive decision-making

Posted On May 14, 2018

In my last “What’s Working with Cam Marston” episode, we looked at the value of reverse mentoring. Forbes contributor Erik Larson goes one step further, however: For the best chance at desired results, younger employees need to be part of the decision-making process.

A study by Larson’s company, Cloverpop, found that inclusive teams arrive at better decisions — and make them faster — than individual decision-makers. Furthermore, the study found that teams of younger members outperformed older teams by 40 percent in reaching decisions that led to positive outcomes.

What’s more, teams that included members of a wide range of ages did even better, as they were more than twice as likely to reach decisions leading to outcomes that met or exceeded expectations as teams comprised by members less than 10 years apart.

One reason for this is that the study found older teams were far less likely to include viewpoints of other generations. Making decisions from a bubble does not typically offer the best chance for success.

While wisdom comes with age, so too at times comes hubris. What, after all, can young people bring to a decision that their older, more experienced peers wouldn’t have already lived through?

Well, as we saw in our discussion with Mark Tibergien and Kayla Flaten, older managers can learn plenty of valuable things from their younger counterparts – particularly differences in communication and relevance. Including these younger voices in the decision-making process only furthers the likelihood that these differences will be considered in reaching a decision.

Larson suggests, however, that the obstacles to true inclusive decision-making aren’t just from older managers unwilling to consider the opinions of younger co-workers, but from the propensity of younger workers to defer to older members of the group.

If given our preference, we are predisposed to work with others in our own age group. But we must challenge ourselves to encourage and listen to voices from other generations in we want the best chance for success.

Larson offers digital methods as one way to make this happen. Or a forward-thinking manager can simply reach out across the generational divides and ask the pertinent question: What do you think?

Categories: Baby Boomers, Blog, Generation Y / Millennials, Workplace