The fifth of the Five Steps to a Good Decision is to Offer a Hearing.
Step 1 is to Step Back.
Step 2 is to Name the Issue.
Step 3 is to Assess the Information.
Step 4 is to Check for Bias.
If you believe that your decision is likely to adversely affect any person, you should allow that person to be heard.
A 'hearing' is simply:
- Informing the person of the information that you have about them.
- Informing them that it may require you to make a decision that may be adverse to their interests or expectations.
- Inviting them to respond to the information and explain to you why you should not make an adverse finding.
A 'hearing' may be a simple as a short conversation, an email or letter.
If the person doesn't accept your offer, you simply make the decision based upon the information that you have.
The ‘Show Cause’ is the best example of the Hearing step in action. It says:
‘I’m thinking of doing X as a result of Y facts and Z policy. I’m inviting you to give me reasons why I should not do X by the close of business on Date. I will consider your reasons before making my decision.'
There are five benefits of the Hearing Step:
- It allows the person with the most at stake to put forward information that can ensure that you are aware of the most personally damaging outcomes of your decision, and assess them accordingly.
- It allows the person to feel involved in their own fate and that you value them enough to engage with them.
- It has echoes of the ‘listening’ in Step 1.
- It is another opportunity for you to Step Back.
- It is one of the most important elements of Natural Justice.
If the person responds, genuinely consider and reflect upon the information that they have given you.
Remain focussed on the relevance of the information to your Widget.
They may tell you about their illness, their lost cat, their 37 years of faithful service, their passion for their job...
Don’t engage with any of these topics if they have nothing to do with your Widget.
Don’t seek to rebut or refute or correct in your response. Simply say:
‘Thank you for taking the time to write those 73 pages in response to my invitation for you to give me reasons why I should not move your desk. I have given all of your submissions my consideration, and after taking them into account, together with Policy X and Report Y, I have decided to move you to the position near the window.’
And you might add: ‘I am sorry to hear about your cat and I can understand how its absence has proved stressful for you. I invite you to take advantage of our Employee Assistance Programme and will approve any reasonable leave that you may require to do so.’
The five steps allow someone to tell us their story and for us to listen.
Our brains love stories.