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Making Better Decisions

Here are some key ideas with regard to decision-making.

1. Delegate Decision Making

Delegate decision making whenever possible. Remember, once you have made a decision in a particular area, you almost invariably have to make all the decisions in that area. Avoid making decisions if you possibly can. Delegate them to other people.

2. Set a Deadline for Decision Making

If you can’t make a decision immediately, set a deadline for the decision. For example, if someone comes to you and they need an answer, and you can’t give them an answer right away because you don’t have enough information, say, “I can’t give you an answer right now; but I will give you an answer by Thursday at Noon.” Then, whatever happens, at noon on Thursday you make the decision, one way or the other.

3. Get the Facts before Deciding

As I said earlier, get the facts. Get the real facts, not the assumed facts or the apparent facts or the hopeful facts. But get the real facts. If you collect enough accurate facts and information in any area, decision-making becomes far easier and more effective. Most poor decisions are made because the person has acted without getting enough information. The very act of gathering information will greatly improve your decision when you finally make it.

4. Dare to Go Forward

Decision-making requires courage. This is because every decision involves a certain amount of uncertainty. With every decision, there is the possibility of failure. But it is not possible for a person to advance in life unless he is willing to make decisions, with no guarantee of success. All successful leaders and managers are firm decision makers. In fact you cannot even imagine a successful person who is indecisive and wishy-washy.

Overcome the Fear of Failure

In a study done not long ago, reported in American Management Association magazine, they compared managers who had been promoted regularly and managers who had not. The one quality they found among the managers who got promoted over the others was that they were decisive in their work, and in dealing with problems. The managers who did not get promoted were unwilling to make decisions for fear of making a mistake.

They then took these two groups of managers and put them through a series of written tests. In each of the tests, they were asked what they would do to solve a particular business problem. Both of the groups turned out to be equally accurate in their answers on written tests. They both had the same decision making ability in a classroom setting.

The difference between those who were promoted and those who were not was that those who got promoted were willing to make decisions and act on their judgment. They were willing to make a mistake if necessary rather than to hesitate or delay. The others were so afraid of making a mistake that they did nothing. Even though they were equal in ability, those who were afraid of making decisions in the first place were not entrusted with positions of higher responsibility.

One of the most important ways to improve your decision-making ability is to avoid perfectionism. Avoid the need to know every detail and to be absolutely correct before you make a decision and move ahead. An imperfect decision made immediately is usually superior to a perfect decision delayed indefinitely.

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