Decision-making is crucial part of professional life. Maybe you are always right, but if your choices affect other people it makes good sense to involve them in the end product. Here are several tips to help you make decision.
- Do not ever think it is enough for you to be clever or even right if other people are affected by your decisions. You can live a very lonely life if you don’t spend time consulting and persuading them.
- Take advice on difficult decisions from people who see things differently from you. Ursula, a consultant, lives dangerously but says: “It’s vital to have a few people around who tend to disagree with you. Consult a conservative person if, like me, you often take risks. They give you the worst-case scenario. If you can live with this, go ahead; if you can’t, you should probably stop”.
- Realize that decisions taken unilaterally or secretly have more chance of going wrong. Many have failed like that: Napoleon might have lasted longer if the had listened to someone who knew about the weather in Russia, for instance.
- Never underestimate the benefits of consultation, even if you do not expect to act on colleagues’ views. People are usually flattered that you think enough of other opinions to ask for them. They will be annoyed and justifiably so if their ideas are worthwhile and you ignore them. Why should fellow workers be relegated to carrying out your orders rather than participating in the more dignified process of working out company strategy and tactics ?
- Keep people filled in on your plans, says Jim, a former marketing consultant. “If anything goes wrong, it is much more difficult for them to shift the blame to you if you have kept everyone informed.”
- Recognize that it can be better to make a wrong decision than to do nothing. Do not let your premises deteriorate while your board is split over whether the reception area should be painted purple or pink. Sometimes people must be allowed to make a wrong decision so they learn a lesson and put it right.
Do not expect success if you allow people to make decisions without being able to justify them. It is never enough for a colleague to say: “We’re diversifying into aubergines because Mr Suggins wants it that way,” or “We’re not diversifying because we never needed to before.”