Decision-Making … with less anxiety!

Decision MakingThe more important a matter is, the more concerned we are about making the correct decision. In a proportionate way, we want all decisions to be effective, swift and efficient. Another facet of decision making is that in an organizational context, some decisions take forever and may require you to attend a number of meetings, repeating the same arguments and still feeling that there is an even chance that it may not be implemented.

One reason why we may find ourselves in this conundrum is that business issues may have become more complex. You and your organization are not unique in this perspective. We may also spend an inordinate amount of time and energy, evaluating equally or differently attractive options involving trade offs that may require compromises.

Here are five (5) suggestions that could be helpful.

  1.  Beware of anecdotesDon’t allow a good story to substitute for data. Your experience is a reasonable reflection of reality as you evaluate the questions or concerns of customers, top management or your team. The larger your organization, the more modest consideration anecdotes are awarded. If a decision is important, invest the time to assemble and evaluate the highest quality of actual data that is available to you or a bad decision may result based on incomplete information.
  2.  Involve your teamJust as anecdote are not a substitute for accurate and sufficient data, it is also unlikely that any one person has all the information needed to make high-quality decisions. Develop a process to utilize the knowledge and experience of your team to study the data, and perhaps make a recommendation for your approval. You then have the option to study the issue further or implement the recommendations with or without amendments. You can also defer the decision. To coin a phrase, you could us “D4”: Data, Debate, Decide or Defer.
  3.  AccountabilityThe person making a decision and implementing it must remain connected. It is necessary to consider implementation equally as important as actually making the decision. Depending on the size of your organization, team and the complexity of the decision implementation, develop a specific implementation plan. The entire implementation could even be delegated, but the action plan is still necessary. The action plan must include: required actions; responsible person(s); due dates; progress report dates and further progress report dates as necessary.
  4. Routinize – Try to install a routine for predictable and routine decision making. The idea is that if you can install this routine, your team knows what is coming next and to some extent reduce any anxiety.
  5.  Plan for unpredictable choicesFor example, if a customer calls for an expedited shipment twice in a three month period, then we will surcharge the order by 2% but not more than $50.00. You could refer to this method as the “if/then” method. This simplistic approach is probably not suitable for larger and unpredictable strategic decisions. Most strategic decisions will involve some participation from Finance, Marketing, Sales and Production. I would recommend developing a plan that specifies the representatives from these functions to meet quickly to assess the necessity for further research and actions.

The path to good decision-making is not always clearly marked. But adopting some of these habits and techniques  can help you to become a more effective decision maker.

Related Articles:   YOUR TIME … 5 ways to manage it better!   and   It’s Your Time … make the best use of it!

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James E. McClain is the author of Successful Career Development: A Game Plan, the book upon which some of our training programs are based. He has over 30 years' experience as a corporate HR executive, small business owner with ongoing experience in career development and as a college instructor. His educational background includes a B.S. and Masters degrees Education and Certification in Financial Planning. Our promise is that "you can pay more for training but you can not buy better training." The mission is to deliver the most effective and cost effective training and development programs.

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