Effective Decision-Making

Effective Decision-Making

August 2nd, 2011 // 5:38 pm @

Managers are ultimately paid to make decisions, but interestingly they rarely get training on how to make good decisions, and the process for good decision-making is too rarely even discussed.

Several key things negatively influence negatively on effective decision- making.

Acting Quickly to Calm our Stress

When faced with a difficult issue, we suffer with stress. How this stress manifests itself from person to person varies, but what is true is we all suffer from it, and we all have an aversion to it.

Therefore dealing with an issue quickly alleviates stress and we feel better. This need to calm ourselves drives us to make decisions quickly and while under stress – a poor place from which to make any decision. We may or may not be aware of this effect but it is in us all to a greater or lesser extent.

This effect can also be often seen in small entrepreneurial companies facing big long-term issues to which there is no quick answer – this drives considerable stress in the owners. This drives owners to look around for a new strategy or ‘silver bullet’, which will remove this stress now! Sadly it never exists, and the constant thrashing around looking for it actually hurts the company getting to a longer-term solution.

Macho Management

Particularly in Western culture with our instantaneous communication systems, it is often perceived as being decisive (and the right thing to do) if decisions are made and communicated quickly. To tell people as I often do, “I want a few days to think about that” does not fit into the stereotypical macho manager so much in vogue in our society.

It may be sexist to say this but in my experience, women suffer from this much less than men. I think this is driven by society’s expectations of men, and our innate hunter mentality.

Decision Balance – Outcome vs People

In almost all decisions there is a balance between the objective and the people involved.  This is the balance between the absolutely pure outcome driven decision, and the one that you can get people to commit to, the one that will not de-motivate or cause conflict.

This balance between the needs of the commercial goal and the effect on the staff is again sadly rarely even discussed. However it is very real, and if not taken effectively into consideration can derail any decision. The best examples of this are politicians, who while knowing what they want to do to get to their objective, are highly attuned to what is acceptable to the electorate.

There are other influences that hamper effective decision-making but these are some of the key ones.

A few thoughts on how to make decisions effectively:

  1. Time – When faced with a decision think through whether it is important or urgent, or both. How long can I give myself to make this decision?
  2. Space – Other people need time too. If you are looking for people to move towards your thinking, give them time to process. When faced with a new idea most people are hesitant, given 24 hours of space to think they are often much more on-side.
  3. Share – Share the question as widely as practical, actively look for other people’s input. This need not imply delegation of that decision, merely the realization that other people have good ideas and different perspectives.
  4. Draft – Writing a draft of your decision or communication will calm you without committing you to that answer. Write the draft, do not action it, and review 24/48 hours later. This also has the benefit of separating the decision from our initial reaction which tends to be emotional not intellectual.

Decision-making and how we choose to do it is critical to our effectiveness as managers. Think about your process, and give yourself time!

Category : Blog &Leadership

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