10 Steps to Better Decision Making
In the fast-paced workplace leaders and managers need to be seen to be decisive in order to implement the company strategy, resolve key issues and gain respect; many management gurus recommend taking swift action to make a decision even if it turns out to be the wrong one, but that advice has landed a few high profile CEOs and their companies in difficult situations. Some of the strongest leaders have excellent leadership judgement and are able to vary how they commit to different courses of actions to achieve the best results. However, many individuals struggle to make a decision, then carry out frequent U-turns, and are often racked with guilt if the action taken was considered to have caused the wrong results.
As with any Leadership Competency it is best to assess your skill level before embarking on any form of development; the Leadership Judgement Indicator is one of the most robust tools to measure how leaders make decisions. It includes an assessment of the degree to which the leader can flex away from his or her preferred style to the most appropriate one for the particular situation.
Most people make decisions based on past experience and emotions, which is not the best approach to rational judgement, as what worked once may not work again and emotions don’t tend to be aligned with objective end results. In addition, our minds are used to habitual thinking and are therefore not well-equipped to address new demanding challenges. Depending on our personality types and experience, when it comes to decision making, individuals display different approaches: some people just make decisions without much analysis, others ‘just know’ instinctively what’s the right course of action, many will procrastinate and wait and see how things pan out, others will go along with the group consensus.
Here are 10 steps to better Decision Making:
- When a situation or challenge presents itself and requires a decision, don’t rush in to choosing one course of action, even if your gut says it’s right; try to be rational and assess what the key objectives and desired results need to be.
- Collect information or data relating to the issue, check facts and identify any time or budget constraints and any other factors which may impact the decision.
- Elicit opinions from team members or key stakeholders, when appropriate, and assess the impact on others of deciding on a specific course of action.
- Make a list of all options, courses of action and potential solutions, no matter how extreme they may first appear.
- Then list all the pros and cons, advantages and benefits of any decision and assess the possible consequences.
- Next measure these against the desired criteria, objectives and results.
- Assess all risks to potential courses of action and identify any results which may cause additional stress, extra time pressures or conflict.
- Check that the final decision is aligned with the vision, mission, strategy and values of the organization, or for decisions outside work, check they align with your own personal vision and values.
- Communicate the decision to all relevant stakeholders in a positive, calm and assertive manner, explaining the reasons behind the decision, if relevant.
- Review the decision, the process by which you made it, and the consequences and outcomes. Ask yourself what worked well or what didn’t go quite as well. And what would you do differently next time?