Skills - Development

How Effective Are We At Decision-Making?

At the workplace, making decisions is an intrinsic component of a leader's role. How can we improve our decision-making skills to become a better leader?

Oct 05 2020

  • Our decisions at the workplace directly influence resources, culture and employee engagement, accomplishment of goals and company growth.

  • Follow a list of tips to quickly improve your decision-making skills.

From the moment we wake up, we start making decisions like what clothes to wear, or what to have for breakfast. There are hundreds of things that have to be decided daily, most of which are trivial. Unfortunately, studies have shown that we have a finite capacity to make informed decisions consistently.

This is why Albert Einstein or Steve Jobs decided to reduce the number of decisions they make throughout the day by wearing the same outfit every day.

At the workplace, making decisions is an intrinsic component of a leader's role. Therefore, counting with good (or excellent) decision-making skills becomes essential to make the right choices and develop our leadership.

How effective are we at decision making? How can we improve our decision-making skills?

Decision-making refers to the mechanism and practises of making a choice or action when working in a team or within an organisation. It consists of analysing a situation, addressing information and alternatives, and making the right choice.

How decisions are made in the workplace directly influences the following components:

  • Resources: How are we using the available resources? Poor decision-making leads to inadequate use of resources and augmented costs. Adequate decision-making ensures the efficient and productive use of resources.
  • Culture and employee engagement: How are organisational culture and employee engagement affected? Upper management and leaders with poor decision-making skills make the culture of the company suffer, employees lose motivation, decreasing their job satisfaction and negatively impacting employee retention. Workers distrust and don't rely on their manager's ability to make the right choices, feeling a negative impact on their work-life. Good decision-making leaders increase employee engagement and a better sense of commitment and trust among their staff, based on a widespread belief of being guided and taken care of, and feeling their work is valuable.
  • The accomplishment of goals: How effective and efficient can a company become? Poor decision-making leads to misunderstandings, mistakes and wasted time and resources. Appropriate decision-making leads to more effective and agile objectives and goals accomplishment, improving time management and increasing productivity.
  • Company growth: Poor decision-making may lead to adverse and harmful difficulties interfering and blocking the company's potential growth. Smart business decisions allow and foster potential growth opportunities.

Companies with highly effective decision-making leaders, with a strong ability to make the right decisions, bring benefits to their employees' work-life, teams and the organisation itself.

Being aware of the impact decision-making brings to our personal and organisational work-life gives us enough arguments to focus on improving our ability to make the right choices and hoping to become a decision-making strategist.

There are a few "red flag" elements which could lead to worthless decision-making:

  • Lack or excess of information
  • A large number of people participating in the decision-making process
  • Emotional attachments or no emotional attachment at all
  • Vested interests

10 tips to improve your decision-making skills in the workplace

  1. Evaluate and determine the importance of the decision to make: how and why is it important? Who does this decision affect? How much time does it deserve? The time spent on a decision directly depends on the importance of the matter. Defining exactly how much time you will spend on it will ensure you use your time wisely. Identifying the significance of a decision allows us to set an appropriate deadline.
  2. Make an informed decision. Make sure you have done your homework. You have the right information, have researched, talked to your sources, etc. Sometimes, replicating a strategy that worked previously is a good option.
  3. Avoid making decisions based on emotions. It can lead to poor choices and impulsiveness. Look at the facts surrounding the decision rather than how you feel about it. Leave anger, sadness and pride aside.
  4. Use your logic and simply make sure that the decision makes sense.
  5. Learn from your mistakes, and move on. We all make wrong decisions at some point, and the best way to improve our decision-making skills is learning from them, avoid repeating previous mistakes and meticulously think about the next decision.
  6. Consider and understand the pros and cons that can arise from the decision. Drafting a decision-making matrix or a cost-benefit analysis to examine the end-results of your decision will help you feel well-prepared and more secure to decide.
  7. Cut off and narrow down your options. Fewer choices will make you feel less overwhelmed and will simplify the cost-benefit analysis. Keep only the highest potential alternatives, eliminating impractical and unrealistic ones.
  8. Minimum viable decisions. You need to make a decision quickly to be able to move on. It doesn't need to be perfect, but you can always refine those decisions easily when you need to.
  9. Develop an eye to identify difficulties and risks. Even the most advantageous plan has potential issues and problems so you should request information on how this plan could fail, get complicated and try to avoid them.
  10. Last but not least, when you have come to a final decision, invariably challenge and examine your decision, asking yourself questions before putting it into action.

Group decision-making creates outcomes that no individual could accomplish alone.

However, there are some specific issues to consider and improve when leading a team:

  1. Learn to manage conflict. A group decision is more complicated than taking individual decisions because it involves different thoughts and ideas with diverse perspectives and ideologies. A positive result will only come when you have the skills to manage conflicts efficiently. Practising conflict management is always useful.
  2. Plan ahead. Avoid conflict between the team members by deciding details in advance.
  3. Take charge and make a firm decision whenever it is needed. At some time, you need to be assertive and avoid wasting time by not taking an appropriate decision.

There's not one right way to make decisions. What works well in one organisation doesn't necessarily work in another. With practice, using the above-listed tips you can quickly improve your decision-making skills.

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