Can YOU Make Great Business Decisions?
Many business professionals struggle with decision making. Some agonize over the decision, worrying that it will result in someone having hurt feelings. Some agonize over the decision, worrying that they will decide poorly and make a mistake. Some worry that the information that they’ve been presented to help them make the decision is stacked or incomplete. Some don’t want to make a decision because they don’t see the urgency or the need for a change. Whatever your situation is, know this: You can make great decisions, and you don’t need to agonize over them. With a bit of work, you can gain the confidence to become a tremendous decision maker!
We all understand that in business, making decisions is one of the primary responsibilities of a good manager or executive, right? We know that we must quickly come to grips with problems. We know that we must be able to make sound decisions to help our team deliver ambitious results. I have put together some sound decision making fundamentals for those of you who struggle with making solid business decisions.
First, realize that we tend to over-emphasize emotion and people’s feelings when we make decisions at times. That’s OK, that’s what makes us human. Be human, but don’t get hung up in the emotions. If you make balanced decisions that appropriately consider people’s feelings, while focusing on what’s right for the customers and the business, you’re going to make better decisions and you will find that those decisions are supported as good decisions. Focus on doing what is RIGHT, not on what will be popular or convenient. When it comes down to it, respect and trust are the building blocks of teamwork and successful results. Nothing earns respect faster than a difficult decision that was considered and arrived at fairly. Your people are always your most valuable asset and you need to treat them right, but you cannot and should not pander to their emotions. You must realize that you will earn the respect of your team by making decisions that allow the business to move forward by doing it right. Your team will support tough decisions if they understand that they were made for the benefit of EVERYONE…
Great decisions are guided by a trusted decision making system. Use it consistently to make decisions based upon data, while considering people’s emotions and feelings. Just be sure you don’t over-emphasize emotions or feelings to the detriment of logic. Here is a handy five-step decision making system:
- Identify the opportunity or issue that requires a decision and address it positively.
- List alternative solutions and gather information and data on each option.
- Evaluate the potential advantages and disadvantages of each alternative.
- Decide and Act. After timely consideration, make a good data-driven decision and act!
- Monitor results, evaluate the decision and adjust as needed.
Don’t get slowed down by inhibitors like perfectionism, artificial urgency, procrastination, analysis paralysis, the desire to be popular, or negative thinking. Good decision makers know that they can solve most problems, make sound decisions and they trust that they will make the right decisions MOST of the time. That is plenty good enough. We don’t need to be perfect…we just need to be consistently very good.
Do the math: Assume that you’re right on 9 out of 10 decisions. Assume that you will get a second chance whenever you make a poor decision. This may seem like a high number to you, but when I ask executives and business leaders how often their decisions turn out to be correct, they most often tell me that around 9 out of 10 of their decisions turn out fine. Remember, you’ll also get a third chance in the rare case that you’ve made the wrong decision twice in a row. If you make those three decisions deliberately, you will almost always get good results. What is your batting average on three tries, you ask? Well, it’s a glorious .900! 9 out of 10 decisions are made correctly, 9 out of 10-second chances are made correctly, and 9 out of 10 third chances are made correctly. Think about this. If that batting average holds up, you will be 99.9% perfect anytime you get three tries, and you’ll enter the decision making hall of fame with an incredible .900 batting average. Can you live with that? Of course you can. I know I can…
For those of you who are still tempted to procrastinate about a big decision, you know, one with a lot riding on it, here are some thoughts. First, realize that the market moves quickly, and you don’t have time to ponder the decision for weeks or months. If you do, your competition is adapting more quickly and probably taking advantage of your “analysis paralysis.” Second, if it’s a big decision, get some help and support! Reach out to your mentor network for the complicated or difficult decisions, talk it over, chew on it for a day or two, but then decide! Remember that the team is counting on you, so for heaven’s sake, make a decision, and let’s get on with it! If it’s a mistake, we can alter our course and fix it on a second try.
I hope this discussion about decision making has slowed the game down a bit for you. It’s easy to make a molehill into a mountain and to get stuck. Don’t let that happen to you! Get comfortable working on your decision making system and leveraging the math in the example above. I sincerely hope that these tips help you to make many more outstanding decisions. I believe that if you increase your good decision batting average it will help you to lead your team to ambitious results!
I’d love to hear your thoughts about decision making. Please add a comment below and tell us about your decision making challenges or tell us a story about the best or worst decision you’ve made, and how it turned out. If you’d like to receive our Best Practices document on Decision Making, just send an email to email@example.com and mention this blog article. We’ll be delighted to send you our Best Practices document! Also, you’ll want to check out our workshops in January and February of 2017 at our offices in Prior Lake Minnesota. We’ll be teaching business professionals about behavior analysis and time management in January, and then in February we’ll be talking about Conflict Management and Business Communications. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on specific topics and pricing.