How to Become a Better Decision Maker

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated December 29, 2020 | Published December 12, 2019

Updated December 29, 2020

Published December 12, 2019

Making good decisions is a key skill for personal and professional success. Making sound, logical decisions in your professional life can positively impact you, your colleagues and your organization. Applying effective strategies and techniques can help you improve your decision-making skills. In this article, we explain how you can become a better decision-maker.

What is a good decision-maker?

A good decision-maker chooses actions that give the best outcome for themselves and others. They enter into the decision-making process with an open mind and do not let their own biases sway them. They make decisions rationally, after researching alternatives and understanding the consequences.

Good decision-makers involve others when appropriate and use knowledge, data and opinions to shape their final decisions. They know why they chose a particular choice over another. They are confident in their decisions and rarely hesitate after reaching conclusions.

Anyone can be a good decision-maker. Making decisions is an integral part of any job, whether you are in an entry-level position or you make important choices on behalf of your company as an executive.

Read more: Decision-Making Methods for the Workplace

How to be a better decision-maker

Applying proven decision-making strategies should help you become a better decision-maker. When you must decide on work, take the following steps to determine the best option:

  1. Consider your personality traits and characteristics.

  2. Know your goals.

  3. Collect information.

  4. Consider all your options.

  5. Imagine different scenarios.

  6. Stay open-minded.

  7. Eliminate options before making a final decision.

  8. Understand some options have equal value.

  9. Use your available time.

  10. Embrace the consequences.

  11. Learn from past decisions.

1. Consider your personality traits and characteristics

People have natural characteristics that can shape their decision making. Understanding your personality can help you identify how you currently make decisions and how you could make better ones. Some of the personality traits that may impact your decision-making are:

Overconfidence

This is a common trait that can compromise decision-making. Many people overestimate their performance and knowledge. Timing yourself completing everyday tasks can help you gain a more realistic understanding of your performance, and this knowledge can help you make better decisions about the number of assignments you can accept in a given period. Making decisions into a collaborative process can correct overconfidence. Seeking the opinions of others will improve your knowledge and help you make better decisions than you can alone.

Risk-taking or risk-averse

Natural risk-takers can make decisions without thoroughly considering the dangers, while people who are more wary of risks may prefer making safe decisions. Understanding your natural inclinations can help you identify the type of decisions you make and learn how to go against your instincts.

Natural bias

Everyone has biases and concerns that can impact decision making. Perhaps you have made assumptions about certain people in your professional or personal sphere. You may feel fearful of certain situations, like public speaking at meetings or flying for business trips. The media and the opinions of others can also shape thinking. For example, watching recent news stories about car accidents may make you more nervous about driving to meet a client. Think carefully about whether you let your biases and concerns sway your judgment and impair your decision making.

Read more: Time Management Skills: Definition and Examples

2. Know your goals

The decisions you make should help you or your company achieve goals. Identifying your individual goals and your business’ goals can direct you toward the best choice. When you know what results you want, making decisions can be more straightforward.

For example, imagine you are considering whether to gain further qualifications. Identifying your professional goals can help you make the best decision for your future.

Read more: Setting Goals to Improve Your Career

3. Collect information

Understanding why you are making decisions, what your options are and the impact of selecting each option helps you make more informed and better choices. Your colleagues, industry experts, trusted friends and family members might also be able to guide you towards the best decisions. While they can be valuable knowledge sources, you should ultimately make your own decisions.

The most successful decision-makers know when they have collected enough information to make the best decisions. Once they have, they act decisively and move on, confident their choice is the best they could have made.

4. Consider all your options

The more alternatives you consider, the more likely you are to make successful decisions. Carefully considering a wide range of potential choices is best. Speaking to others during your decision-making process can offer fresh perspectives that may present alternatives you had not considered.

5. Imagine different scenarios

Imagining what could happen before you act can help guide you toward the best decision. Consider how your decisions would improve your life and the lives of others close to you. This approach can be more effective than making a list of pros and cons, as it recognizes not every benefit or drawback is weighted equally.

6. Stay open-minded

Resisting the urge to draw conclusions and staying open-minded until reaching a final decision can help you to overcome confirmation bias and make better decisions. It is a natural tendency to draw conclusions first, then seek out evidence that supports it. However, this method can cause overlooking important information.

7. Eliminate options before reaching a final decision

Having a variety of choices early in the decision-making process is important, but in time a wide range of choices can be overwhelming and confusing. Eliminating options throughout the decision-making process reduces these feelings. Discount choices when you learn they are not the right selections rather than researching them further. As you narrow your options, you can focus better on each one available and ultimately make the best decision.

8. Understand some options have equal value

The natural tendency to weigh and rank options undermines the concept that sometimes options have relatively equal value. You could research your options for days or weeks and still be unclear which is a better proposition. Understanding this and committing to one option or another is crucial for better decision making.

Consider a decision to work for one company over another. If the roles are similar, your annual salary and benefits may also be approximately the same. However, an attractive fixed salary falls relatively low on the list of factors for employee happiness. Other factors like appreciation for work, good relationships with coworkers and work-life balance are more crucial and harder to rank empirically, especially before you start working for an organization. When options seem equally weighted, commit to one option, then move forward.

Once you are confident your options are relatively equal, you might use a random decision maker online or a choosing wheel. Only use easy decision-maker tools when you feel all your options are equal since they cannot substitute your own knowledge.

9. Use your available time

Rushed decisions are rarely the best decisions. When someone makes decisions too quickly, they are often guided by biases and natural inclinations rather than objective information. Take advantage of the time you have available to make your decisions.

If someone wants a quick answer, ask whether you can have more time. While this is not always possible, extra time for gathering information and reflecting usually leads to better decisions. If you have limited time, try developing a counterargument for the decision you are considering. Debating with yourself, even for a short time, can help you make better decisions at the moment.

10. Embrace the consequences

Every decision you make has consequences for you, and potentially for other people as well. Try to adjust your thinking to make decisions without worrying about making mistakes. Though you need to consider potential outcomes, the safest option is not always the best one. If you choose carefully without fear holding you back, you can embrace the consequences to make the best decisions possible.

11. Learn from past decisions

Every time you make decisions, you can get better at it. Reflect on the choices you make and their outcomes. Note whether the results were entirely favorable or things could have gone better. Identify areas for improvement, and consider how you could better the outcome next time. Every decision you make provides a learning opportunity that should make you a better decision-maker.

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