In most cases, the decisions we make in our personal lives are more trivial – what to watch on TV, what to eat for dinner, what to gift a loved one, etc. Decisions we make at work, however, have far-reaching consequences.
Your decision-making skills are something that can make or break your career. Luckily, decision-making is a skill everyone can improve. Here are some strategies that will help you make the right choices in a pressing and stressful environment.
Practice in Your Comfort Zone
If you have a million other things going on, don’t pressure yourself to work on this skill. Those who are distracted by urgent deadlines should not challenge themselves any further.
Instead, try thinking through decisions when you’re not pressured to multitask. Setting aside some time to focus on decision-making can be very beneficial.
Getting outside your comfort zone is great, but sometimes, practicing while you’re still in it is a better decision.
Avoid Making Emotionally-Charged Decisions
One’s judgment can easily become clouded if he or she is too emotionally invested in the problem. Use rational, careful thinking, instead of acting impulsively.
Don’t focus on your impulsive desires, personality differences, or ego – focus on the facts.
Making decisions when you’re upset, stressed, or anxious will surely lead to poorer outcomes. When you feel like you’re acting out of emotion, take a step back.
Look at the Problem in Short-Term and Long-Term
One thing that usually leads to further problems is when you’re looking at the situation only in the short-term. This kind of short-sightedness almost always leads to negative consequences.
Consider the potential issues stemming from failure to think long-term. Looking at the situation from the long-term perspective can, for example, prevent unexpected expenses that may ruin your business.
Make Evidence-Based Decisions
Rather than simply trusting your instincts, use hard facts when making vital decisions. Incorporating evidence into your decision-making can make all the difference.
When you’re about to resolve something, find out if your decision is supported by data. Get the most complete and current data possible. Challenge your gut feelings with objective evidence.
Ask an Expert
Every decision you need to make has probably been made in the past. While the issue you want to take care of may be unique to you, there’s a good chance somebody already resolved it at a larger scale.
Fortunately, most entrepreneurs love helping each other and are very approachable. A good alternative is hiring a business coach. An experienced coach can help you improve your decision-making skills by encouraging you to do some critical thinking.
Plan for Doomsday
Another step in the process of improving your decision-making skills is understanding the potential risks of the decisions you make.
Take 10 minutes to thoroughly think about the worst possible scenario of the decision you’re planning to go with.
For example, what’s the worst outcome of you firing someone? Will that person sue you for wrongful dismissal? Will that cause your other workers to lose motivation?
There are many ways to mitigate the wrong decision. However, it’s important to know its potential risks first.
Argue it Out
To improve your decision-making skills, encourage exhaustive debate. Give different members of your team the task of arguing for the given option. Others will have to determine flaws in their arguments.
By overseeing the argument, you’ll see every option from different perspectives. Spot how each argument is interpreted and what it’s about – values, vision, people, data etc.
Set Time Limits
To make smaller decisions, give yourself only a couple of minutes. Don’t forget that you can waste a lot of time going back and forth on minor decisions.
For the more crucial decisions, give yourself more time. Depending on the particular situation, this could mean a few days, maybe even a week.
The key is in providing yourself with an adequate amount of time to do some research and weigh the advantages and disadvantages.
Use S.W.O.T. Analysis
By taking a look at your goals and finding clear patterns, making the right decision is easier. One way to do this is to take a piece of paper and create a detailed scenario.
Listing strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats is the basis of a S.W.O.T. analysis. It’s something that can help you improve your decision-making skills. Moreover, the work you put into this analysis can help you with all future decisions as well.
Draw a square with four boxes and list threats, opportunities, weaknesses, and strengths related to a particular decision.
If there’s a strong connection between weaknesses and threats, consider other options. If strengths line up with opportunities, you should probably proceed with the decision.
Don’t beat yourself up when you make the wrong decision. Instead, think about why it failed and learn how to avoid making similar ones in the future. Keep the tips mentioned above in mind, and you’ll be confident enough to make faster and better decisions.
I’m Rebecca, a translator and avid traveler, a book worm and horror flick enthusiast. My job has given me the amazing opportunity to travel to dozens of countries around the world, and writing on Rough Draft gives me a chance to try to showcase some of them.
This article is written in partnership with Rebecca from Rough Draft.