How to implement a Pre-Approval process


The Pre-Approval process is an approach in which employees are allowed to make decisions in predefined situations without asking for approval first. Management receives information about made action later on.

A pre-approval could be given:

  • when employees are more than 80% sure about their decision
  • up to an amount of X €

This process can be a first safe step to distribute decision making towards lower levels.


There are two significant factors needed to make the pre-approval process work:

  • Trust:

We all know that failures can and will happen. However, it is essential that leadership trusts their employees and that mistakes will not be punished. Otherwise, employees will not have the courage to decide on their own again.

  • Dare to try:

This is the hardest step for a lot of managers — dare to try. If doubts and uncertainties are too high, have a trial period of a few weeks in which the pre-approval process gets tested.

Why should companies implement such an approach?

Response times shorten, decisions are made faster and approval processes become less complex. Consequentially stakeholder and customer satisfaction increase due to faster and more intuitive responses. Furthermore, employee motivation increases due to more responsibility. Finally, stress and pressure get reduced for management and they can finally focus on more essential topics.

It is of course not always possible to distribute every decision making towards lower levels. Management and employees likewise have to get used to such changes. With more decision-making power comes more responsibility, for which not every employee feels ready. Additionally, not every manager feels immediately comfortable to let go of control.

What to consider

As a result, this pre-approval process is an excellent first step to start. Employees have the choice to choose if they ask for approval first or not, and management still receives all the information. In the beginning, a pre-approval can be granted for a few topics only and be extended as confidence increases.

Employees and management have to clarify expectations and set some guidelines together. If there is ambiguousness, it will lead to frustration and demotivation. The most challenging step is to act on it and to try it out.