How to improve Decision Making and Problem Solving Skills

How to improve Decision Making and Problem Solving Skills

In this fast-paced VUCA world leaders and managers need to be seen to be decisive in order to implement the company strategy, adapt to change 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 key steps to making 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 what the key objectives and desired results need to be.
  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 team members or key stakeholders 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.
  8. Check that the decision is aligned with the vision, mission, strategy and values 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 would you do differently next time?

During Natural Talent's highly interactive Management Training Module managers assess their Decision-Making Style, learn and practise the most effective ways to make decisions and problem solve, utilizing real-life business scenarios.

'Another great training module thank you; during these times of major change we need to be seen to act and take control so this has been incredibly useful.'  Head of HR, Distribution

You can listen to Jill's Podcast on the topic here and read some of our Client Success Stories here and watch one of our videos here:    Please contact us to discuss your requirements or to book a Coaching or Training module.