We’ll most often agree that deciding can be hard sometimes. Nevertheless, life is entirely made up of a series of decisions that will influence future outcomes. From trivial issues to life-changing decisions, they say that the average person makes around 773,618 in a lifetime, regretting at least 143,262 of them.
When it comes to the workplace, decisions are a daily routine for leadership and managerial roles. Some are pretty simple; there’s already a policy in place that will dictate the correct procedure depending on the circumstances, others will prove more challenging as they present themselves in a less structured way and generally involve higher stakes.
The strength of your decision-making skills at work will ultimately be one of the determining factors of your professional success – don’t leave anything up to chance. Here are 5 ideas to help support your development as an effective decision-maker.
1. Keep it emotion-free
Hard pass on being emotional and taking a big decision. You’ll either feel motivated to rush into something or slow down your actions almost to a complete halt. Whenever you feel pressured, your logic tends to run in the background, while the rest of your mind works overtime to figure out how to cope with the stress.
If a situation appears to be more high-powered than usual, resist the impulse to rush to a decision and allow yourself to take a step back to look at the situation objectively.
2. Bring in a fresh pair of eyes
Whenever people gather, they bring their own history, values, and biases to the collective whole. Within the corporate environment, power structures may at times oppress open dialog. This means that people within the same group are more likely to be convinced by their solution, irrespective of outside views.
Whenever important decisions are to be made at the group level, it’s always a great idea to invite an independent consultant to monitor conversations, identify potential pitfalls and challenge assumptions.
3. Back and forth
While adjusting a previous decision based on new evidence or research is generally the way forward, it’s also very easy to fall victim to office lobbying or self-doubt. It’s important to know when to encourage change and when to stick to your principles as too many changes in the course could result in excessive stress and frustration amongst your team members.
Make use of a decision journal and detail the issue, frames, expectations, and assumptions when re-evaluating your decision. Invite your team to collaborate and sign a written agreement once a final decision has been made.
4. It’s always a learning experience
Fine-tuning your decision-making skills is a little bit like going to the gym. Start slow and adjust and tweak your regime as your performance starts to improve.
Consider keeping a personal decision-making journal, similar to the group journal mentioned above. Make it a habit to regularly refer to the journal and compare your outcomes vis-à-vis a series of different expectations. Seek out the flaws in your thinking and highlight them – make notes on how to improve your performance next time – it’s all about learning.
5. Pass it on
We live and work in a world of teams and projects, and effective managing is all about investing your time to help your teams become bigger, better, and of course, improve their decision-making process.
Encourage your team to approach situations from a number of angles, question their data sources and avoid common decision-making traps by tackling things objectively rather emotionally. Remember that a team that makes great decisions together stays together!