How to make better decisions
Managers make choices that can impact the business every day. To ensure they chart the right course, decisions must thoroughly consider the issue, use the most pertinent information and deliver intended impacts. This step-by-step framework ensures the best results, whether decisions impact a small team or your entire business:
- Define the issue: Ask questions, get feedback from key players, look at the situation from all possible angles. The more thoroughly you understand the scenario, the more informed your decision will be.
- Review information: Gather as much relevant data as possible. If you’re considering a larger decision, delegate data-gathering tasks to team members who know the work area and understand what to look for.
- Evaluate each option: Consider the pros and cons of each possible course of action to determine which routes provide the best chance of success.
- Choose a course of action: Make a choice and move forward.
- Implement your plan: Make a clear, specific and actionable plan. Clearly communicate to employees and address questions and concerns.
- Assess the results: Every course of action you take is a learning opportunity. Monitor results to pinpoint which of your decision-making skills need improvement. Did you:
- Have the right data?
- Consider or recognize each option?
- Communicate well enough to your employees?
- Adjust for the future: Make changes you need to re-orient your course of action. Note what worked and what didn’t so you can make better decisions in the future.
Key skills for effective decision-makers
These skills strengthen your decision-making abilities:
- Problem-solving: The ability to identify a problem and find solutions is crucial to decision-making. Strong problem-solving skills help you remain calm under pressure and identify the best possible solutions.
- Data analysis: The ability to perform your own analysis or delegate to the right employees so you can assimilate the information is crucial. It’s also important to know what kind of data you need.
- Time management: Some choices require quick action. The ability to make sound, informed decisions within the necessary time frame is critical.
- Communication: The ability to clearly and effectively communicate decisions is vital.
- Active listening: Active listening keeps you informed of progress on projects, work processes and how employees are doing at their jobs. And, it makes every conversation information that you can use when you need to make decisions quickly.
- Humility: Sometimes, the most important skill for a decision-maker is acknowledging when another staff member’s solution is better than your own. It’s necessary that you’re able to make the right choice, regardless of who came up with the solution.
- Mediation: The ability to assess each staff member’s opinion, be fair and diffuse conflict is important.
- Planning: Business decisions often involve potential pitfalls. Planning well helps your team avoid unexpected setbacks.
- Leadership: A great decision isn’t worth very much if you can’t convince others of it. Leadership skills help you persuade others that your decision is the right one.
What you should know about decision-making
Decision-making is a vital process for any business. When done properly, decision-making involves taking evidence and combining it with past experience to make intelligent choices. Take time to practice decision-making steps when business opportunities allow and learn from every decision you make. The more experience you get, the more comfortable and effective you’ll be as a decision-maker.
Related: How to Manage Employees
Here are answers to two of the most frequently asked questions about decision-making:
What is the importance of data in decision-making?
When you have good data, you have a better chance of accurately predicting the results of your intended action. You also have better information to persuade others that your decision is the right one.
How can you encourage ethical decision-making?
Ethical decision-makers consider the effects of their decisions on their communities and the company’s bottom line. They encourage other employees to do likewise. When effectively implemented, ethical decision-making enables your company to thrive while being a positive force in the community.