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? You must quickly come to grips with problems and be able to make sound decision to help your team deliver ambitious results. Here are some good decision-making fundamentals for those of you who struggle with this.
First, realize that we tend to over-emphasize emotion and people’s feelings when we make decisions at times. 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 be OK. 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 block of teamwork and results. Nothing earns respect faster than a tough, but fair decision. 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, or you’ll fall short. 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.
Great decisions are guided by a trusted decision-making system. Use it consistently to make decisions based upon data, and consider emotions and feelings, but don’t over-emphasize emotions or feelings. Here is a handy five-step decisions 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 trust that they will make the right decisions MOST of the time. That is plenty good enough. We don’t need to be perfect…
Do the math: Assume that you’re right on 9 out of 10 decisions and you get a second chance when you make a bad 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 it is 9 out of 10 decisions are 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 be fine. 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.
For those of you who are still tempted to procrastinate about a big decision, 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! 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.
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 hope these tips help you to make more outstanding decisions and to lead your team to ambitious results!
I’d love to hear your thoughts about decision making. Leave a comment below on this article 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 firstname.lastname@example.org and mention this blog article.