Making Informed Decisions March 1st, 2010
As the manager for a company, at any level and of any size, you are forced to make decisions on a daily basis. For every manager, your ability to make appropriate decisions is what landed you in your current management role, so it is obvious that everyone in this role has the ability. Now the real subject in question is how to harness that ability to make great decisions that result in profits for the company that you are employed with. The ability to make decisions that positively affect the company becomes even more critical as managers move higher and higher up the corporate ladder. The key to making good decisions really comes down to having an effective process that can be referenced in order to accomplish the desired result. Here are 7 steps to decision making that if followed, will consistently result in astute decision making.
Make sure that the decision is yours to make. Make sure that you are in charge of finding the solution for a specific problem.
Write down all alternatives and consider their feasibility. Making a final decision can be a very stressful process when all of the alternatives are an unknown. The best way to solve this problem is to write down all of the possible solutions to your problem. This creates visibility and allows you to use strategy to solve the problem instead of acting like a horse with blinders on and focusing on only one option.
Collect as much information as needed to feel informed. In order to make an informed decision, you must be informed about all of your different options. After listing out all of the possible alternatives, it is important to gather more information about these options. Now try and picture the end result of each option, which is basically just a mental simulation of how you believe this option will end. This is an easy way to find out whether or not an option will work without putting anybody or anything in harm’s way.
Listen to your gut feeling. Trust your instincts and stand by them. Your gut feeling about the different alternatives comes from your knowledge of the subject as well as past experiences. So ignoring your gut feeling is basically like ignoring your intuition and ability to do your job, which is why you were hired in the first place. If you are really uncomfortable about a specific alternative it can be good to get a second opinion from a colleague, but never just throw away your opinion in response to somebody else’s. If you are still unsure after speaking with a colleague, it might be time to drop that alternative.
Value your employees’ input. The best way to stay informed about different issues and possible alternatives is to speak with the people that conduct the day to day operations of the company, aka the employees. Totally disregarding employee opinions may not only be detrimental to your decision making process, but also to office and employee morale. It is important to value their opinions and then go back and separate the good advice from the bad.
Don’t overestimate the value of information from any one source. We spoke previously about making sure that you value the information from different sources, it is also important to remember that you need to avoid overvaluing information from any one specific source. It is not out of the question to assume that the information gathered from one area is out dated or wrong. This is why it is important, when conducting research, to gather information from a diverse group of sources, no matter how persuasive one source may sound.
Perform a cost-benefit analysis. The final and probably most important step is to make sure that any decision you make, makes financial sense. You have to remember that you are running a business, and the overall goal is to make a profit, so if a decision is going to create losses for the company then it is probably not the decision that you want to move forward with. Make sure to add up all the benefits, of the decision in question, and subtract out all of the costs. If the answer comes out negative, it is probably in your best interest to drop this option and replace it with another.
These seven steps and your natural ability to make good decisions should propel you to make the most beneficial decisions in 2010 and beyond. To reiterate the key points from above, make sure that you list out your alternatives, gather information about each alternative from a diverse number of sources, and then make sure that the decision you choose, makes financial sense for the company. There is no quicker way to get kicked to the curb then by making an important decision that just does not make financial sense for the company. This will act as safety net to make sure that the option you chose is feasible and in the best interest of the company. Finally always trust your own intuition. There is a reason why you were chosen to make that decision, now it comes down to your ability to believe in yourself.
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