Effective and timely decision-making is crucial to good management, but making good decisions takes skill and practice. Some people are great prevaricators: they discuss and discuss again, consult endlessly and are forever weighing options. They lose the respect and trust of their colleagues because their lack of decision-making is seen as a barrier to team performance.
There are techniques to help you make good decisions. Career skills and training website www.mindtools.com offers some free resources to help you use some of these.
If you're finding it tough to make an important decision, Edward de Bono's book Six Thinking Hats suggests you look at an issue from all perspectives before coming to a decision. If you have a range of options to think about, use a simple grid analysis. List options in the left-hand column and the criteria that are essential to the final choice across the top. Work your way through the options and numerically weight how well they fit the criteria. This will help you identify the best options.
Deciding what changes to make can be difficult. The force-field analysis, another decision-making technique, can help you assess the forces for and against specific changes you have identified.
It is not always possible to predict everything that will happen as a result of a decision, but if you map out consequences as far as you can, it will help you to see whether you are making the best decision.
Quick decisions are sometimes as ineffective as not making a decision at all. They can give rise to extra decisions that might not have been necessary if given more thought.
Be explicit about your decisions and stick with them as far as you can. If there is a good reason to change your mind, don't be afraid to do so. That's called judgement.
- Elaine Willis is a consultant.