The Management Blog
Tips & advice to help you improve your performance
I’ve found over the course of my career that there are three main types of decision making models or methods that you can use to help you make a decision.
Whilst every person will follow their own process, all of them tend to fall into one of the three following categories:
Having the ability to make a quick, yet good decision is imperative in all life situations.
To be an effective manager, decision making skills are crucial.
You know the story…you’re right in the middle of something, and then a problem comes out of left-field. How do you react? How you face problems is one of the critical factors that helps determine how successful you will be as a manager.
Many managers panic or resist problems, thinking that by ignoring it or passing it on, somehow it’s solved. Firstly, assume there is an answer out there… it just needs to be found. Worrying about it gets you nowhere; working towards the answer will get you everywhere. I’m not just referring to being positive, but the state of mind you decide to choose will play a big part in the way the problem will be handled.
Now, ask yourself ‘what are the facts?’. Many problems are not as big as they seem at first, once everything is known. Also, facts will help you find a better solution, faster. Knowing this is the next step allows you to think logically about the situation. If you encounter a problem, simply begin asking questions and gather the facts. Sometimes you have dig to get to the real problem! This is where your quality questioning comes in.
As a manager, sometimes you get involved in situations that don’t need too much of your time. You might be able, having summarised exactly what the situation is, to put the problem back to someone else or identify how it can be dealt with in a different way. If you are the best person to deal with it, think of what you, personally can do to deal with it. Brainstorm some ideas. Expand your thinking to identify what alternatives you might have
Consider what research you might do to solve the problem- maybe the internet could help, asking other people, or reading how others have solved the problem might help. Don’t make the mistake of thinking you know it all, and that your first instinct for an answer is necessarily the best. Bounce your ideas off other people, even if you think they know less on the subject. Sometimes the more you know, the more you can overlook the obvious.
Finally, make your decision, and put it into action. Think short-term as well as long. Follow through properly. Allow yourself the time to pick the right solution and set milestones to measure its effectiveness. Monitor those solutions and make sure you have some contingencies, just in case.
By following logical steps, you identify what progress you can make with specific problems and will soon have them under control.
As a manager you are, of course, responsible for making decisions on a number of different levels. You’ve probably already figured out that your interpersonal and information management roles involve making decisions, but you have a number of other responsibilities as well.
You have four main roles as a decision maker within your organisation. They are to act as an entrepreneur, to handle disturbances, to allocate resources, and to negotiate.
As an entrepreneur you are responsibel for finding new ideas that will enhance the way your team works. Once you’ve developed the idea you must implement it and continuously review it to ensure your strategies are sound. You’ll need to know when to make changes should they become necessary.
The handling of disturbances within your team or department are also your responsibility. Disturbances may include anything from broken equipment to scheduling conflicts or two team members not getting along. You need to make decisions that will stop or avoid anything that will decrease your team’s productivity.
When your team or department receives new resources they’ll come to you first. It’s your job to decide who needs those resources and allocate them properly. These may include access to training, funding for new equipment, and evens upplies.
Last, but certainly not least, you are a negotiator. You are responsible for working with suppliers, other management members, and your employees to make agreements that will enhance your performance.
Managers are obviously bestowed with a significant amount of authority and if you find yourself in a new management position you’ll have to be careful not to abuse that position. The more skilled you are at using your decision making skills for good the more productive, efficient, and successful your team will be.
I haven’t challenged you with an activity in quite a while so I thought I might do so today.
Every once in a while we are faced with a decision that seems more difficult than it needs to be. In these situations the key to coming up with the best response is to carefully consider all of the facts and then, using your best judgement and sense of personal ethics, make the decision you think is best for the company in the long run.
Here’s your decision for the day:
As the manager of a small restaurant you suddenly find you need to cut costs by eliminating a part-time employee. Your two choices are an elderly woman who works part-time to help raise her daughter’s children or a college student who is nearing his graduation date and needs to work to pay off his living costs (not to mention tuition) while he’s in school. Both are wonderful people but they are the only part-time people to choose from.
Who will you choose to let go? There’s really no right or wrong answer but you should be confident in your assessments and have a real reason for picking one or the other. Let me know in the comments who you chose!
Goals are goals, true – but when you’re in business it’s important to recognize that there are several different types of goals to keep track of. For the most part therea re three main types of goals:
Goals that we set for individual levels of the organisation refer to a company’s mission statement and operational ideals. They govern the purpose of the organisation and involve setting both strategic goals (usually set by upper management), tactical goals (usually set by middle management), and operational goals (usually set by lower management).
Different areas of an organisation need goals as well. For example, the marketing department and manufacturing plants are definitely going to have a different set of goals. The same applies to finance departments, maintenance, and even support staff.
Time frame goals refer to short-term, intermediate, and long-term goals. You may want your processing plant to complete 1,000,000 widgets in two days (a short-term goal) or you may want to open 25 new stores over the course of 5 years (a long-term goal). Time-oriented goals can apply to any of the levels or areas of an organisation separately – or to everyone as a whole.
It’s important to recognize that you can’t simply set a goal and hold your breath waiting for it to be met. You have to set focused goals and make sure that the people who need to work towards meeting that goal are properly educated and advised. Use your decision making skills to decide who is best suited to complete a given task and then delegate the project. You’ll be pleased with the results you get from a focused group.
Whether you need to diffuse a conflict, start a new project, or rearrange your department, decision making skills are going to prove to be amongst the most valuable management skills you’ll develop. We’ve spoken before about the decision making process itself and took a close look at the steps you must follow, from recognizing a decision must be made to implementing your final choice.
Unfortunately, there are very few cases where everyone you encounter will be happy with every decision you make. The trick is to realize that you can’t avoid a decision, but that making a choice will allow you to regain control of your department or team, whether they like it or not.
Here are a few decision making skills you should work on as you progress:
• Understand why you are making a decision. Do you really understand the problem at hand or do you need to obtain more information?
• Identifying your alternatives. Try to find a handful of solutions to your problem so that you can review them and choose which might work best. Human nature is to jump on the first solution we think of, but this isn’t always the most productive course of action.
• Evaluate the consequences. Review each alternative you discovered and determine whether or not implementing those ideas will have a positive or negative impact on your ultimate goals.
• Evaluate the outcome. You aren’t through with a situation just because you’ve made a final decision. Make sure you evaluate the outcome to ensure that the decision you made was the right choice. Don’t hesitate to make changes if you see room for improvement.
As a manager you have responsibility to make decisions that will impact the performance of your entire team or department. Be confident and assertive and your team will support any decision you make!
Let’s start the week off with a quick exercise. Now that you recognize that making a decision is not a simple one-two process, you’ll need to formulate a personal plan for handling the major decisions that will come across your desk from time to time. What would you do in the following situations?
– There was a major fire at one of your company’s international plants. The fire was caused by negligence on the part of a group of employees and there was at least one death along with several injuries. The fire damaged surrounding businesses and the cleanup will likely take at least 6 months. Your manager has asked you to write a press release expressing apologies, sympathy for the families of those who were lost, and well-wishes for those who are injured. He knows the press will begin to question you and has indicated you should tell them that cleanup will take no more than 3-4 weeks! You know this is something the public would like to hear, but that the information is incorrect. How will you handle the situation?
– The troubled economy is having a negative impact on your business and sales are down. You’re going to have to let one of your employees go in order to cut back on costs, but both of the employees in question are struggling to get by. You know that one has a medical condition and needs to pay for extra health care, but you know that the other is a single parent with a young child at home. Which one will you lay off?
These are difficult decisions and both will take bit of thought. Are they programmed or nonprogrammed? Are you making the decision based on your personal beliefs, or are you looking at the whole picture and making an ethical decision?