August 26, 2022

How to Use the Decision Tree Model in Childcare Management

By Katie Moberg, Employee Experience Specialist

 “Leadership is influence, nothing more, nothing less.” 

—John Maxwell

As a manager, delegating tasks may feel impossible because it requires time to train someone, and trust that the work will get done properly. Instead, it’s easy to hold on tightly to tasks and try to accomplish everything without help. This is what leads to burnout, exhaustion, and can leave co-workers not knowing how to help.  

Consider replacing the word “delegate” to “empower” and view your team through your leadership lens. Leadership is a process, and like any process, you need a place to start.

A simple, yet effective tool that can help empower and build trust with your team is known as “The Decision Tree” featured in Susan Scott’s book, Fierce Conversations, Achieving Success at Work & in Life, One Conversation at a Time.

The Decision Tree is a great resource to develop and empower leaders at all levels. It can help you to evaluate your team to unleash their potential, build confidence and trust, and can support a healthy life/work balance.

  • If you pick a leaf off a tree, there is no consequence that impacts the tree. A Leaf level decision allows your team to make decisions on a regular basis and does not affect the organization. Summary: Make the decision and act on it. No need to report the action you took.
  • Breaking a branch from a tree will cause little to no damage and eventually grows back. At this level, a Branch level decision, allows autonomy with your team and increases trust by encouraging your team to seek solutions and make decisions. Summary: Define the problem. Make the decision. Act on it. Explain what you chose to do, why you chose to do it, and what the outcomes were. Regularly report your actions.
  • The trunk of a tree can withstand minor damage before the entire tree is lost. Trunk level decisions requires absolute trust and involves consulting with other team members, specifically management. Summary: Define the problem. Develop a solution. Make the decision, but discuss with management and gain approval, then implement the solution. Report before you act.
  • The source of life for a tree is the roots. Once the roots are harmed, there is little chance of survival. Root level decisions requires high level authority, such as the owner of the organization, to decide on the course of action. Summary: When a decision must be made that will decide the future of the organization, the final decision remains with the owner of the company on the course of action to be taken. These decisions present larger risks.

As you go through your week as a Center Director, ponder this question: What are some examples of leaf, branch, trunk, root level decisions at your center? How can you use the Decision Tree model to help empower your team?