Updated: Apr 14, 2021
Having to make an important decision for your business? Is it a decision on policy, procedure, or systems? Will your decision impact your staff in a significant way and if so how? Will your decision have a profound effect on the delivery of your product or services to your customers or clients?
How do you base your decisions? Do you choose what you have always done because it is simpler, safer or more predictable? Do you do a gut check to see how you feel about the issue and listen to what your gut tells you? OR, are you someone who ignores any emotion discounting it completely as something to be ignored in your decision making process?
Perhaps you are a business owner or leader who makes fear based decisions without even realizing it. If your thought pattern sounds anything like, “we have to do it this way because…” If you sense your decisions are fear based you may be making decisions that are less beneficial or even detrimental to your company. Worse yet, your fears may be emanating into the environment of your workplace causing others to be unnecessarily burdened or walking on eggshells.
So how do you get to the right mix of criteria in considering the best move to make in the hundreds of decisions business owners and leaders need to make?
Here are some things to consider as you engage with yourself and your leadership team or anyone else involved in your decision making process, so you avoid fear based decisions or paralysis by analysis, another common problem in the workplace.
IDENTIFY THE REAL ISSUE AND WHY IT IS A PROBLEM. In other words, dig deeper than the initial awareness that there is an issue. Define and get on the same page with your people if others are involved in the process. Be sure you are all talking about the real issue.
CONSIDER THE IDEAL OUTCOME TO THE ISSUE. What would that look like? What would other acceptable or beneficial outcomes look like? You will need to know what the final destination is so everyone can get on the same page.
DISCUSS WHY THIS OUTCOME MATTERS. How does this decision impact your organization, the people you serve and the people who work for you? How does this decision affect the sustainability and profitability of your business?
BRAINSTORM POSSIBILITIES. Do this with yourself, your leadership team if you have one, or a trusted partner, employee or colleague. This process can keep you from knee jerk reacting into a fear based decision.
WRITE DOWN ALL THE POSSIBILITIES. See them in front of you and then begin to compare each one to the desired outcome you already defined.
ASK WHAT ELSE to be sure to come up with at least 5-7 ideas. Then assess which ideas on the list are least likely to get you where you want to go. Once you have a complete list only then cross off the undesirables.
CONSIDER THE REMAINING IDEAS. Have some honest discussion and debate about which ones are likely to produce the ideal or an equally good outcome if implemented.
USE EMOTION INTELLIGENTLY. Emotions are not to be ignored, however we don’t want to make important decisions solely off emotion either. Emotions can serve us well in decision making if we learn how to use them effectively.
ALLOW INPUT FROM OTHERS YOU TRUST. As owners we often think we have to make all these decisions solo. Don’t put yourself in a silo by thinking you have to have all the answers all the time. Sometimes your staff -the ones who are interacting with your customers -can provide valuable insight and feedback that is crucial to informing your decisions.
Being a business or organizational owner or leader is a great opportunity to contribute to your community, enhance the lives of your people and their wellbeing and provide a great income for years to come. People are counting on you to make great decisions, face your fears, and to take the time to make decisions based on good information and a decisioning process.
Next time you are faced with an important decision in your organization, try these steps and see if it leads you to some better outcomes.