We’ve all been there.  A decision was made that seemed like the right one at the time, but the outcome was anything but what we expected.  It’s a natural part of the leadership process and it happens every day in every credit union.

But what do you do when this problem arises as the result of a delegated decision?

Consider this scenario: You have a valued team member you believe has the potential to be a future leader in your credit union.  So you set out to develop their skills by expanding their scope a bit and giving them a new level of decision authority.

You’re judicious in your approach and start out by having them make some routine decisions that are just beyond the work they have been doing to date. And as they demonstrate the ability to use appropriate judgement, you assign them more and more responsibility.

It all goes well until one day when a problem emerges that is out of the ordinary, and you are not around to serve as a sounding board.  So the team member steps up and makes a decision that they feel will lead to the right outcome.

But it all goes horribly wrong.

Their decision leads to unforeseen problems, goes against some long standing guidelines that the employ was not aware of, and ultimately involves several members of the team in fixing a problem that most believe should never have arisen.

So what do you do?

Why not schedule a post-mortem to review the situation and see what can be learned form the experience?  You might opt to call it a debrief to make it seem a bit less intense, but make sure you gather all the facts and listen to all of the perspectives.

The goal of your post-mortem is to find out what really caused the problem, to learn from the experience, and to make whatever adjustments are necessary for the future to ensure that the problem does not arise again.

It sounds simple, but it is not.

Getting people who have been inadvertently drawn into a problem situation to step back, pause, and focus on evaluating the process to look for ways to improve it can be challenging.  But in the end it is worth it…it focuses everyone on what really matters, developing the skills of the team and improving your processes.

ACTION ADVICE: Consider scheduling a session with your team to review some recent decisions that didn’t turn out as well as you might have hoped. Use this session to teach the team the value of reviewing decisions with an open mind and with an eye on improving the process versus assigning the blame or critiquing the person’s logic who made the decision.  If you repeat this post-mortem process on a regular basis, you’ll improve your processes, strengthen your team, and reduce the fear of failure that often holds people back and keeps them from growing into the future leaders your credit union needs.