If you’re an entrepreneur or small-business owner, you’re used to making lots of decisions throughout the course of the day. While it’s estimated that the average adult makes around 35,000 “remotely conscious decisions” every day, entrepreneurs, business owners, and managers of all kinds make significantly more decisions than the average person.
While some decisions are small and have few consequences, there are many decisions that business owners make that have profound effects on their success. Further, in addition to affecting their success, decision-making skills also have a big impact on how team members view leaders and the amount of trust they place in their leader’s abilities. Good decisionmakers instill confidence in their team, and earn the respect of all employees.
Yet decision-making can be stressful, and many leaders regularly fall back on a comfortable decision-making style to make the process less overwhelming. The most common decision-making styles include impulsiveness, compliance, delegation, avoidance, balancing, and reflection, yet many of us use some combination of these styles in order to deal with the sheer volume of decisions made every day.
While the decision-making process might not matter too much for small decisions, when it comes to big ones, you want to make sure that you’re doing everything you can to make good decisions, and that you’re making decisions in a way that instills confidence. The good news is that even if you struggle with decision-making, there are things that you can do to get better at this important skill. By following a methodical process and implementing tips from experts, you can make yourself a good decisionmaker and a more respected leader.
Having a clear process for decision-making is helpful when it comes to big decisions. This will help you to avoid feeling overwhelmed by an important decision and help you avoid falling into bad habits, for example avoiding decisions, making the most comfortable decision, or simply picking the first option.
Instead, having a clear process will guide you through the steps needed to make the best decision possible. While you’ll want to adjust the process to make it unique to your style and personality, here are a few key components that should be part of your decision-making process.
- Identify the decision that you’re making. This might sound simple and obvious, but often it’s an overlooked part of the process. When you’re dealing with lots of decisions, it can be easy to consider many different issues and factors all at once. While each decision might affect other things, start by narrowing the issue that you are considering to one clearly stated decision.
- Once you’ve identified the decision, identify the desired outcome from that decision. Consider what outcome you would like to see in a best-case scenario, and then begin working towards that.
- Gather as much relevant information as you can. This can be tricky, and experts warn that you should worry less about getting more information and instead focus on getting the right information.
- Create a list of potential decisions to make.
- Analyze the advantages and disadvantages of each option.
- Get feedback and opinions from trusted team members.
- In a timely manner, make the decision and then monitor it to determine whether you are getting the desired outcome.
- Adjust as needed if the desired outcome is not achieved.
6. Tips to Guide you through the Decision-Making Process
Even with a good process, decision-making is a learned skill that can be difficult to master. To further grow as a decision-maker, it’s helpful to regularly implement advice from relevant experts. By incorporating advice from experts in both management and psychology, you can help refine your process and further develop the skill. Here are a few helpful tips from experts in the field:
- Don’t seek perfection. In most cases, a “good enough” decision is in fact good enough. Rather than waiting for everything to be perfect, use the best information that you have to be an efficient decision-maker. As George Patton famously said, “A good plan violently executed now is better than a perfect plan executed next week.”
- Make decisions independently. While it’s essential to involve your team in the decision-making process, it’s important to ultimately make the decision on your own. Gather information from others, ask lots of questions, and get as much advice as possible from relevant team members, but when the time comes, make the decision on your own. One expert suggests that to help set yourself up for success in this area, remind yourself to never ask others “what should I do?,” but instead ask “what’s your thinking on this?”
- Don’t ignore your emotions. Obviously, it’s important to go through the full decision-making process and to thoroughly gather all relevant information, but it’s also important to listen to your emotions and “gut.” When it comes to complex decisions, after thorough analysis and reflection, don’t be afraid to go with your gut.
- Consider an outside perspective. Duke Professor Dan Ariely advises that when you consider an outside perspective, you’re more likely to make a good decision. To help do this, consider helping someone else make the decision, and ask yourself, “what advice would I give to others?”
- Monitor your decision-making. Peter Drucker, author of The Effective Executive suggests that you keep a decision-making journal where you record decisions made and the results obtained. Doing this will help you learn more about your own decision-making and enable you to better understand your strengths, which is an important component of decision-making.
- Sleep on it. By taking a day to sleep on a decision or simply taking a break from the issue, it can help to provide clarity. By taking your mind off of the issue, it will give your brain a chance to rest and recharge and will ultimately lead to more clarity.
Decision-making is an integral part of everyday life, especially for entrepreneurs and small-business owners. Making good decisions is tough but can determine your success as a businessperson and as a leader. As a result, it’s important to regularly improve upon your decision-making skills and to consistently work to become a great decision-maker. By implementing the above process and tips, you can help to instantly improve in this area and gain some skills to help you steadily get more skilled. Good luck!