Some managers hesitate and procrastinate over decision making. This is generally because they are anxious about making the wrong decision and the possible consequences this might have. The best managers are prepared to make decisions quickly even if they are only 80% sure they are right. This is because delaying a decision can cause more problems than it solves. By acting quicker and anticipating the risks you may be able to still put the situation right. Procrastinating may leave this option unavailable.
So how should we make a decision? Follow these six steps to make the best decision with the information you have available.
1. Take A Step Back
Instead of panicking and putting the dreaded decision off, step out of the situation and emotion to think rationally. Put the whole situation into context and how it fits the bigger picture. Look at it from different perspectives and who it will affect.
2. Consider Your Options
There will usually be a number of options and whilst you may not believe in some of them, at least put them ‘on the table’. If you have colleagues in your team with better expertise seek their opinion about more options.
3. Evaluate These Options
Write down or consider each option in turn looking at the pro’s and con’s of each. Some people use a weighting system in terms of the criteria for making the decision. Allocate ‘scores’ for the different options. If necessary ask your colleagues to do the same independently and then compare results. Assess the risks as you follow each to their conclusion.
4. Decide Upon The Best Option Even If Not Perfect
Many managers delay because they feel they have insufficient information and feel this will prevent them making a ‘perfect’ decision. Waiting for this further information may mean missing an opportunity. It is often better to do the best you can with what you can gather in a relatively short time. In other words let go of this need to be perfect.
5. Take Action
Once you have made the decision, stick to it and take action. Avoid going back over the same thought process to see if there is a better way as this will often be a waste of time and put more pressure on in terms of time.
6. Check The Result Of Your Decision
To improve our decision making skills we need to constantly learn from those we have made, good and bad. Look at the consequences and consider whether you would have made a different decision based upon certain information and how long it would have taken to gather. Consider whether there is still time to put it right. All in all adjust your future options generator to see whether you can foresee such issues in the future.
There will always be times when we make wrong decisions or mistakes. Delaying a decision will very rarely help you to change this decision or avoid making wrong ones. The best thing we can do is learn. If you read books written by entrepreneurs you discover that they are often successful because they make faster and bolder decisions than others often taking advantage of a particular situation. Be prepared to take some ‘flak’ from time to time by taking responsibility knowing that the majority of the time you are likely to be right.
Head of Training