Supporting Harmony at Work

MAKING or TAKING Decisions? A difference in process

Many of us many have used either sentences “Making Decision” and “Taking Decision” interchangeably, without much thinking about the difference that underlines the decision process.

The difference is more than mere semantic: those translating from Italian, French and Spanish often struggle on when is the correct moment to use “Take” or “Make.” Like in the case for shower: in Italian we would say “I make my shower”, in French we would say “I take my shower” while in English it translates into “I have my shower”.

Making a decision includes the mental process of defining the problem, creating a list of all the possible solution and accordingly, present opportunities and options that best suit the problem resolution.

Taking a decision exclude the creative process of definition and solution ideation and focuses on the act to choose a solution instead of another.

As managers it is important that we correctly define what we want our team to do and provide the correct framework to allow the correct decision process to occur.

How often we ask a manager to return to us with a decision on a problem and they present us with a list of options when we infact were looking for a final choice between possibilities that are already clear in our mind?

Have you seen a team member “frozen”, unable to decide as s/he is not equipped in successfully engage in the creation process of making sound decisions, therefore analysing and weighing all the options?

As leaders is therefore important that we are clear on our language and ensure that our teams understand what we are asking.

Cultural diversity plays surely a role in the matter and it Is often connected with the ability to say “no” to a request and ask for clarifications.

When working with a team in Tangier, Morocco, it took me 3 meetings to catch up on the fact that a newly appointed Team Leader did not understand my English and my vocabulary. She was nodding along in the meetings and then asking her colleagues to translate all that was said in the meeting afterwards. I was able to detect the challenge only as I noticed that an email I receive with the completed assignment had an identical text used by another team leader. By reviewing back all her email communication it was clear she was not using “her own words”. When I addressed the issue discovered her challenge: she was learning English as well as learning how to do the job!

We tested all appointed Team Leaders by their colloquial English which was sufficient to hold generic conversations. It was however not developed enough to discuss matters like performance, reporting and management. By creating a specific glossary, which contained acronyms like KPIs and words like “management”, “leadership”, “coaching” “shadowing”, we overcome a significant linguistic challenge and at the same time opened a strong line of communication within the Management team.

“Be specific in your request” is one of the pillars of good management – and it includes clarifying the process that a team member or reporting leader needs to undertake to produce the results expected.

To ask for clarification is a difficult thing to do, as we do not want to be seen as incompetent or unable. Nevertheless, misunderstandings are easily created: using “take” and “make” without clarifying the intention behind it may cause challenges that can be easily addressed by being aware of how we use language.