15 Techniques To Improve Your Decision-Making Skills

Updated February 3, 2023

Window view of a person working from home listening and/or reading from their laptop screen.

Effective decision-making is a valuable skill in any workplace. Making a well-informed decision can help you become a more productive employee because it can save time and help you make better use of resources.

In this article, we explore the definition of decision-making and how to improve your decision-making skills.

What is decision-making?

Decision-making is the act of making choices through the assessment of information. Hiring managers and recruiters desire decision-making skills in employees so they can contribute more effectively to the company. Employees face many decisions and options throughout the workday, so an employee needs to make effective decisions.

Here are some skills companies might look for that would show good decision-making:

  • Flexibility

  • Analytical thinking

  • Critical thinking

  • Problem-solving

  • Investigation

  • Team player

  • Strategy

  • Active listening

  • Ability to compromise

  • Time management

Related: Decision-Making Skills: Definition and Examples

How to improve your decision-making skills

Here are a few ways you can improve your decision-making skills:

1. Make a plan

If you know you have an upcoming decision to make, it can help to make a plan. For example, if you have to decide how best your team can meet a company sales goal, think about the size of your team and their individual goals to meet that larger goal. You can also examine what resources and supports may help you and your team achieve their goal.

2. Be assertive

Try taking command of the decision-making process. You might try advising a group on each choice's pros and cons and setting time limits to ensure a quick and productive decision. This can help increase productivity in a group environment and help everyone make decisions quicker. You could also improve your strategy skills by guiding the decision-making process by telling the group about your preferred choices.

Related: Skills in Assertiveness: Definition, Tips and Examples

3. Ask an expert

Getting another opinion can help validate your decisions and give you extra confidence in your decision-making abilities. You might try asking a local expert, or you can always ask a trusted friend. For example, you might ask a supervisor their opinion about the project you're working on.

4. Keep it in perspective

Try judging the value of each decision. Instead of spending extensive time debating smaller decisions, such as the font type for your company literature, focus on larger decisions, like what your company's printing schedule should be. Keeping each decision in perspective can help you become more flexible and able to compromise.

5. Set deadlines

Set time limitations for yourself on each decision you make. This can help minimize how long you have to change your mind or think about deciding. You first might need to discover the importance of your decision. If it might have a large impact, you might need a longer time frame to decide, which can help you improve your time management skills.

Related: Optimizing Your Workplace Decision-Making Process in 7 Steps

6. Limit choices

The more choices you have, the more complex your decision-making process. Limiting your choices can help you consider just a few options at a time, so you make a more informed decision. Limiting your choices also might help you learn how to think critically when considering the remaining options. For example, when choosing a photo for your company's social media account, focus on images that tell your company's story most simply and get rid of ones that make a visitor have to think about it.

7. Weigh your options

Consider making a list of all the positives and negatives for each choice. This can help you examine all your choices and options in an informed manner. It might even help you think of additional items to consider. Laying it out in a list can help you look at your decision in a structured format and objectively at all the advantages and disadvantages. This can help you improve your analytical, critical thinking and problem-solving skills.

8. Exercise

Exercise can help your mind and body work together because it helps to stimulate your brain and boost your energy levels. It can also help improve your focus on decisions.

Related: 15 Workplace Exercises To Keep You Healthy at the Office

9. Get some rest

When you're tired, you're more likely to choose the easiest or most comfortable choice. This is known as decision fatigue. Make sure you get a good night's sleep and are clear-headed when possible for big decisions. If that's not possible, step back for 30 minutes and clear your mind before coming back to the decision.

10. Meet new friends

Having a wide variety of acquaintances can show you different perspectives or offer you valuable advice when you face a decision. Working with new friends and colleagues can help you improve your teamwork and active listening skills. For example, you might ask your coworkers how to approach a specific problem with a project. Some may not have encountered that problem, but others may have. Having more friends and acquaintances gives you more people to go to when you need help or trusted advice.

11. Try experiments

Experiments can help you test your decisions with scientific models. If you are unsure about a result or action, you could try creating an experiment similar to the decision you have to make to see what might happen. You can predict a hypothesis and use strategy and research to develop your experiment protocols.

12. Learn and improve

Take lessons from the past and use them to improve your decision-making abilities. Previous decisions you've made can be helpful when considering a new decision. Try analyzing an earlier decision and its outcome, and use that information to guide a new, related decision.

Related: Decision-makers: Definition and Why They're Important

13. Take a break

Sometimes taking a slight break can help you refocus. Try taking a short break, enjoying a hobby or reading a book. Focusing on another task might give you a new perspective on your decision.

14. Work through a list

Prioritizing your decisions might help you improve your decision-making and time management skills. Make a list of items you need to accomplish or decide on, starting with the smallest decision. Working your way through the list can make you feel empowered and accomplished, improving your confidence in decisions.

15. Practice

Training your brain by practicing decisions can help you decide quickly in the actual moment. You might try practicing making simple decisions, such as whether you will use color or black ink to print a report. Once you feel confident with smaller decisions, you might try practicing some bigger decisions, such as which company to buy a copy machine from.


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