How to Make Better Decisions

How to Make Better Decisions

How to Make Better Decisions

In the fast-paced workplace leaders and managers need to be seen to be decisive in order to implement the company strategy 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 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 starting to develop it; 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.  Our minds are also used to habitual thinking and are therefore not well-equipped to address new demanding challenges.  Depending on our personality types  and past 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 Ways to make better Decisions:

1. When a situation or challenge presents itself, don’t rush in to making a snap decision, even if your gut says it’s right; try to be rational and assess and clarify what the key objectives and desired results need to be.  Have a SMART Action Plan and ask yourself what really matters in the situation.  

2. 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. 

3. Elicit opinions from key stakeholders and team members when appropriate and identify the impact on others of deciding on a specific course of action. 

4. Make a list of all options, courses of action and potential solutions, no matter how extreme they may first appear. 

5. Then list all the pros and cons, advantages and benefits of any decision and assess the possible consequences. 

6. Next, measure these against the desired criteria, objectives and results. 

7. Assess all risks to potential courses of action and identify any results which may cause stress, additional time pressures or conflict amongst team members. 

8. Check that the decision is aligned with the vision, mission, strategy, values and culture of the organization, or with your own personal vision and values. 

9. Communicate the decision to all relevant stakeholders in a positive, calm and assertive manner. 

10. Review the decision and the process by which you made it. Ask yourself what worked well or not so well and what you would do differently next time.  Make sure your decisions are backed up with diarised key milestones to check the effect they have had and identify any negative impact of previous decisions and ask: what is it time to start doing, stop doing or continue doing?  

Of course, if you’re just not a particularly analytical individual, nor adept at writing out lists and exploring options, for some personal decisions, another technique is much easier:  For 3 days imagine you have made a particular decision, for example, you decide to have a second child or to move house.  Walk around for 3 days imagining what it would be like if you had made the decision and analyse how you feel; involve all those concerned and tell them what you’re doing.  Then for 3 days walk around imagining you have made the other decision, and see how you feel, i.e. do you feel happier and more fulfilled?  How is the decision affecting others?  This has worked wonders for many people looking to make a key personal decision and has led to many happy relocations and additions to families!

'The Leadership Judgement Indicator was a really tough assessment for our exec team!  It did higlight those who needed to work on their decision making skills.  The Exec Coaching has led to real improvement and much better collective decisions at meetings which has meant fewer log jams and more action, thank you!'  HR Director

About Jill Maidment

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