For managers, decision making is one of the most essential components of leadership, given that the results of their choices and decisions enable them to either make it or break it.
However, here is a piece of good news: better decision making is an art that can be developed, no matter the position that one occupies within a company.
Here are a few practical tips to cultivate it.
1. Be Honest With Yourself!
The first piece of advice, which is also the keystone to the whole process of developing competencies, is to know your own natural style of decision making.
By taking into account various combinations of personality traits and referring to a psychometric test, it is possible to know whether an individual will have a tendency to come up with decisions slowly or rapidly, whether they will tend to analyse everything in minute details or to improvise in an emergency situation, or whether these decisions favor new and fresh outlooks or if they are based on the known and familiar.
This process of better decision making is influenced by:
Is this person naturally drawn to results, or to the well-being of the team? Are they favouring risk, or security?
Is this individual the type to avoid taking a stance that would require them to vigorously defend their point of view?
Level of skepticism
Does this person have a tendency to be realistic, to see positivity in everything, or to ask many questions before making a decision?
Resistance to pressure
We simply don’t make the same decisions when we are in a stressful situation. Hence, it is important to discover whether any factors contribute to an excessive the level of stress in the workplace in order to see if results could be influenced by this process.
All in all, given that an employee’s personality greatly influences his or her decision making process and the development of this skill, it is crucial to be aware of the starting point: the natural reflexes.
2. How Much Time Do You Have (Realistically!)?
When decisions need to be made, time is a key factor as it often dictates the strategy to be adopted.
However, the sense of urgency tends to vary from person to person. Some see emergencies left and right while others do not see them at all; perception of time varies according to personality but also with acquired experience.
Therefore, in order to get to know your own perception of time and develop your skills, it is very important to know yourself well (as stated in the first point)!
3. Keep Your Eye on the Prize
Though you may encounter many different intriguing options that could whet your appetite, if they are not directly related to the goal you are pursuing, they should be ignored.
It is crucial to be aware of the tendencies we have in terms of attraction to various elements. For instance, if a person always perceives new options as being better, it is important for them to be aware of this trend in order to avoid a repetitive pattern of decision making and therefore, potentially, the repetition of similar mistakes.
4. Do Not Seek Perfection
There are two different approaches when it comes to better decision making:
- People who make a decision when certain criteria have been fulfilled;
- People who want to make the best possible decision and for whom the decision making process can get quite long and laborious.
We are constantly submerged in a sea of information – and too much can be as dire as too little. Making the best possible decision is a potentially infinite process, which, additionally, is complex and sows doubts… without forgetting that time equals money and energy.
The moral of the story is, even if the decision is not perfect, it has the merit of being within grasp and of corresponding to your criteria. Once all the checkmarks are filled, make the decision and move on.
5. Trust Your Intuition
Research has shown that intuitive decisions often end up being better than others, especially when they are within the scope of one’s domain of expertise or are made in an emergency situation.
Intuition is a rather complex concept to grasp and explain. To me, it is in fact an expression of natural reflexes combined with our accumulated life experience. It is instinct attempting to manifest itself, and lending it an ear can prove quite beneficial!
It was shown that there are 3 types of intuition:
- Ordinary intuition = natural instinct;
- Expert intuition = instinct based on experience;
- Strategic intuition = a clear train of thought which emerges more slowly and in new situations.
Thus, when it comes to wanting better decision making skills, it is important to know which of these inner voices to listen to and when. When a new situation arises, it is more profitable to follow not the expert intuition, which will come to you quickly, but rather to leave some time for strategic intuition to arise.
6. Always Have a Plan B
The true strength of a leader can be measured after he or she makes a wrong decision, and therefore needs to rely on the ability to come up with a plan B as quickly as possible. Of course, in order to do so, a plan B needs to exist in the first place – it must have been thought of during the initial process of decision making.
Try to develop your ability to learn from your mistakes; in order to do so, own up to them and try to bounce back quickly with a well thought-out plan B!
If you are an organised person, this may come to you naturally; however, if you tend to be on the spontaneous side of the spectrum, it might take some extra effort! At the risk of sounding like I am rattling on, I yet again suggest that you get to know yourself and the people you are working with.
Decision making is an art that can be developed. In order to do so, one must know where to start: with the personality of an individual, their natural talents and their abilities, as enhanced by experience.