In business, we also admire people who are confident, assertive and quick thinking. However, the ones who are successful over time aren’t just lucky, and they don’t leap before they look. Instead, they’ve honed their decision-making skills with experience, and they are continually adding to their knowledge and experience base.
In action movies, the hero makes infallible split-second decisions. Part of what we admire about him or her is that brilliant decisiveness. There’s no self-doubt, no deliberation. They just somehow either have huge amounts of background knowledge or they’re incredibly lucky every single time.
Harvard Business Review says effective executives think in terms of what is strategic. They balance emotions with reason and see one decision as part of a bigger picture, and they follow the same basic process for making decisions large and small.
Clearly Define the Decision
Big problems can create emotionally turbocharged reactions. It’s natural to want to jump right to the fix, especially when you feel stressed, anxious or under pressure. However, successful workplace decision-making starts by making sure you clearly understand the question before you begin to formulate the answer.
Albert Einstein shared his decision-making approach when he said, “If I had an hour to solve a problem I’d spend 55 minutes thinking about the problem and five minutes thinking about solutions.” The Nobel Prize winning genius believed quality solutions came from careful research. He knew problems contain clues that allow you to better reach a successful conclusion.
Try not to see the decision at hand as positive or negative. Even if there’s a deadline hanging over your head, set that aside for a moment so your grey matter has more energy to fuel critical thinking.
The first step of solid workplace decision-making involves clearly identifying the problem you need to solve or the question you need to answer. Identify your goal as specifically as possible and set a time frame for achieving your goal or answering your question.
Gather existing data. Brainstorm with your team to get solutions from multiple perspectives. Identify alternatives. Seek advice from industry experts or solicit feedback from customers. Consult studies, market research and, if necessary, advice from paid consultants. Check out what your competitors have done when they were faced with similar decisions.
Also, in some situations, it’s an option to do nothing, and it might be the best one. Fear of seeming indecisive isn’t a good reason to act, and it could get you in financial or legal hot water.
Identify Possible Outcomes and Consequences
Once you have a list of options, mentally and verbally walk through how each one might play out. Envision the worst case scenario, and who might be affected if that’s how things go. With that in mind, rank your choices from best decision to possibly most problematic.
Being thorough is good, but don’t get so bogged down that you end up with analysis paralysis. It’s possible to go to extremes trying to consider every possible alternative. If you’re getting overwhelmed with the possibilities, take a step back and limit your consideration to the choices already showing the most promise.
Eventually it’s time to either take action on the decision you’ve made or decide you’re going to table the deliberation altogether, at least for the time. Come up with a plan to proceed in the direction you’ve chosen.
In step one, when you identified the problem to solve or question to answer, you also should have set a time frame. When you reach that date, circle back to review whether or not your choice was a good one.
If things went as planned, were there hiccups along the way? If they didn’t, what can you learn from the mistakes? How can you unpack data and debrief with your team?
For Help With Hiring Decisions
Take the guesswork out of hiring when you work with Brelsford Personnel. We do the research, background checks, skills testing, interviewing and everything else to make sure you get the best employee for your needs. Send us a message if you’d like to know more.