What if we relearned to make choices?

Increase the minimum wage. Reduce executive pay. Abolish wage scales… there is much talk of money and what is or isn’t fair remuneration, but what about the decision-making process?

I believe we have “unlearned” to make choices. The prospect of being responsible for the consequences of our actions seems to scare us to the point that many prefer to live with the bad decisions of others rather than face their responsibilities.

At a conference last year I met with Lisa Fecteau, owner of the Regitex Group Regitex and past president of the Groupement des chefs d’entreprise du Québec (Grouping of Quebec Entrepreneurs). She gave a talk on a new form of management that she termed “empowering organizations”. These are organizations in which employees are responsible to think for themselves and make their own decision, and in which steams are valued for being fully accountable experts of their work.

At first blush this may seem “airy-fairy”, “visionary”, or a “pipe dream”. If you’re a manager, let me use your language. In five years, Regitex sales figures have quadrupled, employee turnover has gone from 4.1% to 0, and Lisa is able to spend 3–4 months a year in Florida. Better still, when she returns, her desk is empty. No sky-high inbox, no pressing decision to make, no emergency. Everything works as if her employees did not need her. Because she has taught them how to not to need her…

We decided to follow suit.

The Contextual Psychology Institute took the plunge! We decided this together, without really knowing how to go about it, by gathering our courage and putting our hearts to it. Yes, we took a few hits along the way. No, it’s not easy every day. We make mistakes. We learn. We grow. We grow together. Sometimes we feel angry. Sometimes we feel sad. Often we feel proud.

What have I noticed? I’ve noticed that we are increasingly united. That our vision has become clearer, our objectives more precise. I have observed each team member increasingly take their place, make an effort to understand the different points of view of the other team members, and reflect on their own opinions. I have seen us work hard, be creative, and have fun together. I sense that we are creating momentum to move toward a team in which everyone does what they want and does it well. And that, my manager friends, is solid gold!