Making Smart Decisions at Work
Our daily lives are filled with thousands of decisions. You decide every morning what to wear, how to style your hair, if there is time for breakfast and what to eat, what kind of coffee to start your day with, which route to take into work, which parking spot to park in and the list goes on.
While it is okay to make a few of these decisions on autopilot, it’s important that we know and understand the basics of smart decision making. Even though we can make some decisions faster than others, for example, which muffin sounds best vs. which account head to assign to your company’s newest client, the process of deciding stays the same.
Step 1: Identify the goal
A decision needs to be made, but what is the goal of the decision? Are you wanting to get to work early so you can review notes before the big meeting? Wanting to hire a new employee to help improve customer engagement? Behind every decision there is a why and having a clear understanding of the why will help you to identify the right decision for the how.
Step 2: Research the problem
The weight of your decision will determine just how much research needs to be done. You might just need to think up a pro and cons list or you might need to do a cost evaluation and intense market research.
Step 3: Check your emotions
Has anyone ever told you to go with your gut? Or on the other spectrum, have you received the advice of not to make permanent decisions based on temporary emotions? As humans, we tend to let our emotions guide us even when we aren’t aware of it. Emotions can cloud our vision and lead us to make the worst decision. If you feel that you might be too emotionally invested, take a step back, ask a third party to be a sounding board, and reevaluate what is best for the goal you identified in step 1.
Step 4: Filter the feedback
Often when there is a decision to be made, people offer unwanted feedback and opinions. Remember that this decision fell to you for a reason. That being said, it’s good to listen and give a voice to those who will be affected by the outcome of your decision and council your mentors but ultimately you need to run all of that feedback through a filter. Do these other voices know your goal? Is their feedback them stating their own emotions? Is the collective decision good for the group or just one person? Successful people weigh their options against a pre-determined set of criteria because they know that this makes decision-making easier and more effective – don’t lose sight of your criteria.
Step 5: Sit on it
Don’t run off and tell everyone your decision the moment that you believe that you have it. Sleeping on a decision ensures that you have clarity of thought when you approach it the next day. It also allows time for your emotions to run their course. If you don’t have overnight to make a decision, try doing 30 minutes of exercise to help clear your mind and work through all of your options.
Step 6: Make the call
Successful people know the importance of doing their research but are also aware of falling into analysis paralysis. Instead of waiting for the stars to align, successful people know that they need a timetable to follow and stick to their deadlines. After completing the above steps, you probably have a good idea of what the right decision is. Don’t be afraid to make it even if it might be an unpopular decision. Stand strong in your goals and values and do what you believe is right!
Being assigned as a decision maker can be a lot of pressure as many decisions come with repercussions that can last days, weeks and even years. When you find yourself in such a position, take a breath and trust the process. You’ve got this!
By: Miranda Hardesty Hoffpauir