According to a recent McKinsey study of more than 1200 managers from global companies, fewer than half say that decisions are made in a timely fashion, and 61% say that at least half the time spent making them is ineffective. McKinsey estimates the opportunity costs for these decisions are high: approximately 530,000 days of managers’ time per year for a typical Fortune 500 company. That’s equivalent to almost $250 million in wages annually!
Making better decisions saves both time and money for businesses at any level. Here are some suggestions to help employees at all levels make better decisions.
1. Think, but don’t overthink it
Of course, you want to think about any decision that you need to make. However, it’s easy to overthink, which can lead to “analysis paralysis,” which is an inability to make decisions because of too much information. This can lead to stress, which may lead you to a make a different decision than you’d make without the stress of overthinking it. It can also cause you to doubt your decision. If you’re becoming confused or struggling with a decision, step away for a while until you can clear your head.
2. Step away from the decision for a while
Sometimes it helps to look at the situation as an outside observer, removing yourself from the process completely. By doing this you may see other options that you couldn’t see from within the problem or be more open to compromise. Be sure to focus on the facts of the situation, not your emotions. Feelings aren’t facts.
3. Look at the other side
Before finalizing a decision, consider the opposite of what you are choosing to do. By entertaining the thought of the exact opposite, you may see other options or challenge long-held thoughts and beliefs. Or it may make it clear that you’ve made the right choice. Either way, examining your choices from all sides helps you make well-rounded decisions.
4. Get some feedback
Ask around to others who made a similar decision to find out how they did it or what their thoughts are on the current situation. Also ask those who your decision will affect the most. Getting their feedback may provide information you don’t already have. But don’t overload on feedback, or you may be subject to “analysis paralysis” (see number one above).
5. Manage your feelings
It’s important to note that feelings do play a role in decision-making. You cannot make a decision without them, but too many feelings or too much of a certain feeling can cloud your judgment. You must act with emotional intelligence. This could involve setting certain feelings aside in order to make a good decision. And this applies to both positive and negative feelings. Even excitement about a decision can distort your viewpoint.
6. Weigh the consequences
When considering a decision be sure to weigh both the short and long-term consequences of that choice. Some decisions are painful in the beginning but bring benefits in the long term, and vice versa. Be sure to analyze both before making your final choice. And make sure everyone else is aware of the long- and short-term consequences of the choice that you make.
7. Be willing to make a bad decision
Recognize that there is always a risk of failure in every decision. Knowing this, be willing to take action and risk a bad choice. Otherwise, you’ll never make any progress on the situation. You can prepare, though, by having a contingency plan in place.
8. Be true to your values
Your decisions and the process used to make them should reflect your core values. If a decision reflects your values, it will help you accept the outcome, no matter what it is.
9. Gather lots of data
Gather as much information, data, and analytics as you can to help make the decision. Review the information for trends, history, and possible projections for the future. Basing your decisions on past history and projections for the future based on that history can help ensure a better outcome. Data helps you understand how processes have worked in the past and it produces insights that you can use to determine your next course of action.
No matter how small or large the decision, everyone can benefit from these techniques for making better decisions. Whether it’s taking a step back from a decision, looking at the other side, or getting feedback from others, these tips will help you make a more well-rounded choice. Your supervisors and employees will thank you for taking their opinions into consideration before you make a change that affects them. And don’t be afraid to take a risk and make a bad decision, just be sure to have a contingency plan.