You make decisions every day in both your personal and working life. They can be as simple as what time a meeting should start, or as complex as defining the best strategy to adopt in order to achieve a particular goal.
“Regardless of the decision’s complexity, making a bad decision can have negative consequences,” says Michelle Gibbings, a change and leadership expert and founder of Change Meridian.
Gibbings works with leaders and teams to help them accelerate progress, and she believes that to get things done – and done well – you need to make good decisions: “If you want to step up and be more influential, it’s time to master the art of decision-making.”
Here are 10 ways you can become a better decision-maker and confidently lead your business, according to Gibbings.
1. Know your bias
Bias pervades decision-making. This is because most people don’t make decisions based on facts alone. The brain discards information that doesn’t fit with its world view, and it takes short cuts when it makes decisions. Consequently, you can be blind to the obvious and closed to other people’s opinions. Be alert to influencing factors and how you are processing information.
2. Challenge your mindset
Examine the mindset you apply to your work and relationships. Letting assumptions drive thought processes and behaviour can negatively impact your decision-making processes and interactions with colleagues and stakeholders. Instead, invite different opinions. Out-of-the-box thinking can come from unexpected quarters.
3. Don’t silence the dissenters
People are easily swayed by the opinion of others. Be alert to when a group or team is ignoring the person who is raising the dissenting idea. It may be that this is the person who will help ensure the group doesn’t fall into the trap of ‘groupthink’.
4. Ignore hierarchy
Talk to people at all levels of the business. Hierarchy can interfere with the information you receive as it can be filtered and sanitised before it hits your desk by people who are trying to paint a situation in the most favourable light.
5. Get deliberate
It’s easy to get distracted, so be clear on what you need to do to get the decision made. Multitasking and good decision-making are not a successful combination, as you lose concentration and productivity as you switch between tasks.
6. Know your options
Decision-making is essentially about opting to do one thing, rather than another. Understand the trade-offs. It helps if you are clear on the options, and the likely consequences of those options.
7. Be determined
Making a decision can be hard work. Some decisions are more complex as the solution is not easy to find. Be comfortable with the fact that sometimes you need to make a decision with incomplete data. In these situations, maintain your focus to make the best possible decision based on what you know at the time.
8. Get some sleep
When your brain is tired it eagerly takes the path of least resistance, which means you will let expectations and assumptions drive how you think and act. If you want to make more deliberate decisions you need to be conscious about how and why you are choosing one option over another.
9. Make the decision
Procrastinating will not make the decision process any easier. Put in place the process or framework to make it happen.
10. Reflect on it
Take the time to reflect on important decisions. What happened? Did it turn out as you expected? If not, why not? What could you do differently next time?