Making Better Judgement Calls

by Debbie Ruston, Featured Contributor

In business there are many decisions to be made.  Decisions are usually made from a set of “rules” that must be followed.  We are conditioned to follow rules, and in some cases, rules are necessary.  However, employees that have the freedom to make a judgement call will not only feel more confident, they will feel like they are contributing which makes them feel valued.  When employees feel valued, they become more engaged, which develops a better culture within an organization.    This flows into the clienLeadership & Talentt experience as well.  When an employee of a business can make a judgement call to serve the customer, the customer feels valued and wants to continue to do business with the company.   A lot of unnecessary anger is created when an employee is sticking like glue to the rulebook,  and the customer is being affected in a negative way.

I spoke to someone a few weeks ago that was commuting 40 min each way to work.  She was almost to her workplace when she realized she had forgotten her laptop, which plugged into the system at work.  To add to this, it was during a snowstorm, and the staff were going for a Christmas luncheon that day.  The woman called her employer and explained what had happened and suggested she could be more effective working from home in this situation and could still get her 8 hrs in.  The employer insisted she go home, get the computer and come into the office.    This meant that with the extra driving, and the luncheon, she would only be able to complete 4 hours of work.  This doesn’t make any sense at all.  This would have been an opportunity for the employer to look at it logically – he had a good employee that was willing to forgo the Christmas party (which would have saved the company money) and work double the time from home.  However, because of “the rules” he couldn’t make a simple judgement call, and actually lost money for the company.   These sort of situations happen every day in the corporate world…..all because people are so ingrained to follow rules, they can’t think for themselves and make a simple judgement call.   What is this costing organizations in disengaged employees, loss in work hours and the costs associated with this?

How could this situation and future situations be handled better?   Common sense.  With situations like this, what actually makes the most sense?   Those in leadership roles are put in these positions to make leadership decisions, not conform to a rulebook and not think for themselves.  Conformity thinking is not leadership.


Debbie Ruston
Debbie Ruston
ENTREPRENEUR, International Trainer, Visionary Leader – Debbie has been a successful entrepreneur, since 1986 and believes in taking an active stand for true human potential. As the owner of The Success Educator, Debbie has spent her career helping individuals discover their limitations and overcome them and assists people globally in starting their own businesses. She also has a personal passion for education reform and providing youth the knowledge required to succeed in today's changed world.

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  1. I would agree Carol. It is important to follow compliance on issues of ethics, etc., but in a case like this it is an outdated management style and demonstrates a lack of judgement and common sense.

    An update to this story. This week we have had a major blizzard, -40 celcius weather and road closures. This same employee couldn’t get to work, but again offered to work from home. The employer told her she couldn’t and would have to take a day without pay. A few hours later, he contacted her and said she could work from home. A ridiculous demonstration of not having the “authority” and the lack of confidence to make a judgement call on the spot.