Decision Making Made Easy

decision-making skillsAs employees, we each possess many different qualities that help us fit in and excel at our jobs. Maybe you’re great in a crisis, are wonderful at managing a team, or really excel at making awesome PowerPoints. Maybe you’ve been honing your soft skills, reading up on inner-office communication or feel at home planning an office party or outing. We all have our strong points and hopefully we use them to their optimum levels each and every day.

Unfortunately, one area in which many employees feel themselves lacking is their decision-making skills. Decision-making is vital in so many ways to success in the workplace, especially if you’re a manager, need to delegate, or are the final authority on a big issue, but many of us find ourselves floundering when making a decision is down to the wire. Here are a few ways to improve your decision-making skills and improve your work life dramatically.

Determine the True Issues

Decision making can fluster us and prevent us from seeing the true goal of the decision we are charged with making. Don’t let the responsibility cloud your reason; assess the truth of the issue from all angles and then grapple with the responsibility of making the final decision. If you don’t know the issue inside and out, your decision won’t be informed and thus has less of a chance at being effective and good for all parties involved.

Imagine the Results—and Be Honest

When we are the leader in a situation, it’s easy to imagine our ideas as the ones that produce the best, most desired results. Unfortunately, we can tend to glamourize our own ideas to the point that we aren’t able to see the weak spots in them. When you’re trying to make a decision, you must imagine the possible results or outcomes and be absolutely honest about the negative possibilities as well as the positive. When you’re being honest with yourself from the start, you can approach each topic of concern with a level head and a selfless perspective.

Make Lists of Pros and Cons

For many people, keeping a mental rank-and-file of the pros and cons of particular options simply isn’t enough to help them reach a final decision. Have a special notepad that you can turn to, one which contains pros and cons of certain options and well-thought-out scenarios wherein that option could help or hinder progress. Weighing pros and cons is among the first steps to making an informed decision, and having a record of pros and cons is great for reference when you’re absolutely lost.

“Know Thyself”

Plato’s ancient maxim is still applicable today, in a variety of environments and situations. When it comes to making decisions in the work place, knowing yourself is absolutely paramount. If you don’t know your own limits, boundaries and abilities, it’s next to impossible for you to make an accurate and effective decision.  Especially if you’re a leader or manager in the situation, you  need to know your own bandwidth, how capable you are in the area or topic of interest and how easily it will be for you to delegate tasks based on your own knowledge.

Always Have a Plan B

Another reason we might have trouble making decisions is because the idea of a “be all, end all” is extremely intimidated. If we feel backed into a corner and forced to choose between two options, neither of which is a guarantee, we begin looking for possible alternatives so all isn’t loss if we make the wrong decision.

If you can avoid it, don’t make a decision on an important topic without also having a solid Plan B. You’ll experience tremendous relief and peace of mind knowing that even if your decision fails, you have an option in place to soften the blow.

Don’t Make Decisions Under Stress

This should go without saying, but making a decision when you’re threatened, pressed or otherwise frazzled will seriously compromise your judgment of things. If you find yourself getting severely stressed over making a decision, take some time to unwind and relax. Escape the office environment and let your brain come down from the tension involved with making a decision under pressure. Once you’ve sufficiently unwound, revisit the options, their tenets and the possible outcomes. You’ll have a level head, a calm demeanor and a refreshed sense of reason.

Decision making is never easy, but when you are armed with excellent decision making skills, the process is easier and produces a more effective result.

Have you focused on professional growth in this area? What did you learn during the process?

image credit: jesadaphorn/