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Decision Making for Supervisors: 7 Steps for Improving This Skill


One of the many responsibilities a supervisor has is the responsibility to make decisions. They are expected not only to make decisions but also to frequently make the right calls. For supervisors, this means that they need to do what they can to improve their decision-making skills.

Many factors go into making a good business decision. If you’re not careful when making one of these decisions, you can cost yourself more than initially planned. History has shown us that a great business decision can make or break a business. We will discuss how you can make better business choices by considering risks, internal and external factors, getting input from others, business goals, and analytical data before deciding what action to take next.


Importance of Decision-Making for Supervisors

Making decisions is like the super skill of a good supervisor. It’s also one of the most challenging parts of the job. Good decision-making is not just about choosing option A or B; it’s about guiding your team through the thick and thin of everyday work life. That’s what decision-making does for supervisors. They align their team’s hard work with the big-picture goals of the organization. It’s like making sure all the rowers are rowing in sync – super important for getting where you need to go.

 Problems pop up all the time – a missed deadline, a team disagreement, a sudden change in project requirements. Here’s where a supervisor’s knack for making quick, smart decisions really shines. It’s like being a firefighter and a chess master at the same time, putting out fires while thinking three steps ahead. This keeps the team from falling into chaos and helps everyone stay focused and productive.

 A supervisor’s decisions can make or break the team spirit. It’s not just about what you decide, but how you decide it. Being fair, consistent, and transparent is key. It builds trust, and trust is like the glue that holds a team together. When team members believe in their leader’s decisions, they’re more likely to open up, share ideas, and work together better.

There’s also the bigger picture to consider. Every decision a supervisor makes can affect risks, benefits, and even how stakeholders outside the team view things. It’s a balancing act, weighing what’s good for now against what’s best for the future, and keeping everyone’s interests in mind.


Begin Getting Comfortable with the Risks

To make good business decisions, you must identify which type of person you are: Are you comfortable with taking on high levels of risk? Or do you prefer not to take chances at all? If so, then try mitigating those risks through insurance policies or other financial instruments; however, if not, perhaps avoid making big decisions altogether until you’re more confident in your ability to assess and accept risk.

As a supervisor, each decision you make comes with risks. The decisions you choose to make that determine workflow could impact multiple departments and operations. The decisions you make when choosing who will work on particular projects can impact if those projects are done on time. Even the decision you make on which employees will collaborate may have an impact on employee morale.

When building decision-making skills as a supervisor, you need to begin to get comfortable taking risks and possibly being wrong. When this happens, it is ok to admit your mistake and learn from it. These lessons are usually only learned when mistakes are made and risks are taken.


Consider Internal and External Factors

Internal factors are factors within a business that the organization can control. These are financial resources, physical resources like equipment, and human resources like target audiences and employees.

As a supervisor, some of these things you are not responsible for. However, the decisions you make can influence those other areas. That is why when leading your team you need to consider all factors. This includes ones that impact you, your team, and the organization as a whole.

Read: 10 Mistakes New Supervisors Make and How to Avoid Them


Get Input from Others

When making a business decision, many people can help. You can talk to your employees, customers, and suppliers. You may want to consult Human Resources and your colleagues.

One way to get feedback and input is to hold a brainstorming session. A brainstorming session is a meeting where you invite people who can help you make decisions and share ideas. You may want to have a brainstorming session with your employees or other business owners.

You can also hold brainwriting sessions. This is like a brainstorming session, but instead of sharing ideas verbally, those ideas are written down by the people in the meeting. This helps to make sure that everyone is heard and ideas are not influenced by individuals in leadership or people with strong personalities.


Know What Success Looks Like

If you don’t know what success looks like, how will you know when it’s time for you and your team to celebrate? This is especially true if your business is new and there are no clear metrics for success. This can also be true if you as a supervisor inherited your team from a previous leader. Sometimes, one leader’s goals for their employees are not the same goals you want to set for them.

Whatever “success” means for your company, write down a definition, so everyone agrees on what they’re working toward as they move forward with their projects at work each day (and year).


Make Sure the Decision Aligns with Your Team’s Goals

One of the most important considerations when making a business decision is whether the decision aligns with your company’s goals. If you know what your company is trying to achieve, you can use that as a guiding force for all future decisions.

It’s also important to consider how any given decision fits with your mission statement and values as an organization. Your employees need to understand why they do what they do and why it matters, so it helps if each employee’s job description aligns with their values and those of the larger organization.

Read: 8 Tips for First-Time Supervisors


Utilize Evidence and Data

It’s important to be armed with data when making a business decision. As a supervisor, you don’t want to rely on your feelings too often when making decisions that will impact your team. That doesn’t mean that you don’t go with gut feelings when the situation calls. However, you want to have something solid to point to as a rationale as to why you made some of the decisions you made.


Evaluate Every Decision Afterwards

After you’ve made your decision, it is good practice to go back and evaluate the results. Did things turn out like you hoped? Or did everything go up in flames? What did you do correctly when you made those decisions? What would you have changed?

Asking yourself these questions will give you insight into whether or not you are improving as a decision maker. They will also help you see where your strengths and weaknesses are. For example, you may find that you make decisions better in pressure situations as opposed to decisions made over a period of a week. 

To make your evaluations even more powerful, ask for feedback from your higher-ups to see how those decisions impacted the organization on a larger scale. This will help put your decisions in perspective and give you a big-picture view that you can apply to future decisions.


Decision-making is an important part of problem-solving. Making the right business decision can be tough. Hopefully, this has helped you make informed and successful business decisions. By keeping these tips in mind, you’ll be able to take advantage of any opportunities that come your way!

Also read:

Hate Being a Supervisor? 5 Things to Do Right Away

What Employees Need from Supervisors to Succeed


This article was first published in 2022 but has been updated and expanded.

Jazmin Merriman
Team Writer: Jazmin Merriman is a writer, studying to become a Family and Marriage Therapist. She loves writing about minimalism, business, finances and lifestyle. She likes to inspire people to live a more intentional life by showing them what she does as an example.

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Find Your Way · Grow Your Business · Leading Your Team · Your Mindset

Team Writer: Jazmin Merriman is a writer, studying to become a Family and Marriage Therapist. She loves writing about minimalism, business, finances and lifestyle. She likes to inspire people to live a more intentional life by showing them what she does as an example.

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