It’s safe to presume that during the course of our lives there have been and will continue to be times and situations wherein we are in a decision-making role. In the work environment it could be being in an organizational, department or division or a team-leader role. Maybe it could be that we are simply making decisions pertaining to ourselves … what we want to do and where we want to take ourselves. Regardless, our ability to be an effective decision maker is the key ingredient that is going to weigh heavily on how well we succeed.
In my work as a leadership coach in numerous companies, I have encountered several people who had been placed in business leadership roles. And although they had the technical background and the knowledge they needed to make them and their followers successful, they clearly lacked the ability to make
John Sammarco of Definitive Business Solutions authored an article several months ago that effectively addressed this very subject. He states “decisions are critical to business success; without them, there is no way to stay aligned with your enterprise’s mission, vision, and goals. Thus, when leaders fail to make solid judgments, the effects can be felt throughout your entire organization.” He identifies decision deficiencies such as procrastination or impulsiveness as having underlying problems. These include:
- Inability to commit ~ feeling like there is no good option or fear they are incapable of choosing correctly
- Being overwhelmed ~ given the amount of data now at our fingertips the decision-making process can seem insurmountable. And, the person can overcomplicate things which only adds to the problem
- Not knowing how ~ making decisions is a learned skill and requires that we take steps to learn … and practice … until we are confident with our knowledge and ability in this arena
- Recognizing there is often a trade-off ~ Remaining objective even when a decision can impact them or another is the challenge. Without remaining impartial the decisions made will always be flawed
- Simply being exhausted ~ experiencing decision or indecision fatigue zaps managers of the mental capacity to make a decision. This is more possible when the process involves long debates or never-ending research and analysis
Mr. Sammarco also identifies the impact of a poor decision-making process on your organization. He indicates that the adverse impacts can extend beyond the decisions themselves. Decision deficiencies can:
- Negatively impact morale ~ If an employee being led believes that their ideas are not fairly evaluated, they will begin to feel disconnected with the mission and vision
- Create stagnation ~ Those having lessened morale are inclined to stop providing new ideas and suggestions to improve the organization
- Launch a perception of bias and favoritism ~ when it appears that the ideas and opinions of one over others influences the ultimate decisions
- Reduce productivity ~ When employees stop caring the likes of sick days will increase and productivity will decrease
- Discourage others from joining or remaining with the effort ~ departures and the related knowledge will increase and walk out the door
I am often reminded of a quote attributed to Scott McNealy, the founder of Sun Microsystems. He said “The best decision is the right decision. The next best decision is the wrong decision. The worst decision is no decision.” It is generally agreed upon that any form of ‘analysis paralysis’ that is often associated with one’s inability to make decisions is detrimental to both the person charged with the decision-making responsibility and those they lead. And the best thing is … once we recognize this as an area of personal challenge, we can take steps to learn ways to develop and sharpen this needed skill.
Sammarco states that “your organization is not a product of business circumstances, but rather, a product of its decisions.” Provided you agree, it seems like evaluating our personal skill in this arena and taking steps to improve our individual capabilities is the right place to expend some serious effort.