Basic decision making process 101: Avoid 3 common mistakes

Your business is at a crossroads and it’s up to you to pick the next move. What do you do? Do you go with your gut or lay low and hope it all blows over? Or, maybe, you stay up for a week straight agonizing over every last detail before making the call.

While you may think you’re doing what’s best for your business, rushing, dodging and over analyzing decisions could create a whole new set of problems.

Here’s some ways your basic decision-making process could be hurting your business.

Rushing to conclusions

When you’re up against a tight deadline, sometimes it’s necessary to make decisions quickly. But if you’re frequently skipping steps, you could be misdiagnosing problems and making decisions that don’t solve anything.

For example, let’s say you notice that one of your employees is less productive than the rest of your team. Before you jump to conclusions and assume it’s a behavioral issue, take the time to look at it from all angles. It may not be the employee that’s the problem. Are there any other factors that could be hindering your employee’s productivity, such as a change in management, staff or processes? Does he have the tools he needs to get the job done in a timely and efficient manner? Does he have the skills and knowledge to fulfill his job duties?

If you don’t take the time to step back and collect the facts, you may not be looking at the problem holistically. As a result, your basic decision-making process may only be treating the symptoms of the problem and not the root cause.

Dodging the decision

While you shouldn’t be hasty when tough decisions arise, sticking your head in the sand and just hoping it will go away isn’t wise either. Often, these things don’t resolve themselves. And procrastinating only causes problems to fester.

For example, if you have two feuding employees, you may avoid confronting the issue in the hope they will work it out on their own. If they don’t, the conflict may grow. Many times animosity between two employees can boil over and affect the morale of the rest of your workforce. And even worse, it can quickly intensify into a potentially violent situation that jeopardizes everyone’s safety.

As well as being uncomfortable or time-consuming, avoiding decisions can also hurt your reputation. Your staff may perceive it as a lack of care for their well-being, which can create a lack of respect. Employees are less likely to take pride in their jobs or exert extra effort for a leader they don’t respect.

Over-analyzing information

Sometimes when it comes to our basic decision-making processes, we are our own worst enemies. Though being diligent and well-informed is an important part of the decision process, if you overthink it, you may miss time-sensitive opportunities.

For example, if your business is expanding, your current staff may feel overwhelmed. You realize you need to decide whether you can hire new employees. You pull the numbers. You consider your revenue, headcount, expenses, etc. You calculate. You calculate again. And again. And again. All the while your current employees are working tirelessly to keep your company running smoothly. As the months pass, they get frustrated and start to resent you. As you continue to agonize over the decision, one-by-one, they quit. Now even more short-handed than before, your company might struggle to fulfill basic demands.

Whether it’s due to fear or perfectionism, being indecisive and taking too much time to gather information not only affects your businesses productivity, it also damages your employees’ confidence in you as a leader. If you don’t trust yourself, why should they trust you?

So what can you do?

Balancing your decision-making process can be difficult, especially because the importance of each issue varies. Here are three basic steps that can help you make timely, yet well-thought-out decisions.

1. Focus on the outcome – Decide what your goal is. Be able to describe it, in detail. It’s easier to weigh your options and make a viable plan when you know exactly what you’re trying to accomplish.

2. Look at problems systematically – Consider the problem from all angles, including process, expectations and resources. Talk to credible and reliable sources. Often, the people closest to the problem have additional insight that makes it easier to choose the best solution.

3. Get to the heart of it – Make a list of the vital information you need. Once you have the information, prioritize it based on how it relates to your desired outcome. Discard any unnecessary information, such as personal opinions and hearsay, to avoid getting sidetracked.

Your business can experience higher productivity through improved individual and group performance.  Get our complimentary e-book, How to develop a top-notch workforce that will accelerate your business.

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