We all have regrets about a bad decision that we made in the past, especially at work. What’s worse is that we most likely keep making the same poor decisions over and over again. We don’t stop and think about why we made a poor decision in the past, and we certainly don’t try to learn anything new so that we can make better decisions in the future.
We keep plugging away blindly, hoping things will just work out. Often, it’s the leaders of companies who are making the tough calls, and if they’re wrong, their mistakes can hurt the livelihood of many people.
So how do we pause for a second, get out of this vicious cycle, and start making wise decisions to get a company back on track?
The problem with making decisions is that sometimes we don’t know how to assess a situation properly. I recently found this insightful checklist from an article titled “A Checklist for Making Faster, Better Decisions” from the Harvard Business Review.
Assessing the impact of this new decision: “Write down five pre-existing company goals or priorities that will be impacted by the decision” (Larson, Pg. 1). This helps create a clear picture of how much this decision affects the company and various factors such as the time and effort it takes for this decision to succeed.
Having alternatives: “Write down at least three, but ideally four or more, realistic alternatives” (Larson, Pg. 1). It’s always good to have options just in case Plan A does not work out.
Checking your information: “Write down the most important information you are missing” (Larson, Pg. 1). Sometimes, we tend to think of all the information we have to support our ideas but forget about the fact that we may have left out other valuable information. Even information that shows why our decision might not be a good idea is an unbiased way to see if our decision is worth implementing.
Anticipating a one-year timeline: “Write down the impact your decision will have one year in the future” (Larson, Pg. 1). Attempting to see how things will work out down the line will help you see how you want your decision to unfold. This can help you guide your decision and make changes, if your decision is not working.
Getting trusted opinions: “Involve a team of at least two, but no more than six, stakeholders or valued members of your team” (Larson, Pg. 1). Talking about an important decision with people, whose opinions you value, will allow you to be more objective. Keep this group small, because too much input can cause confusion.
Note your team’s decision-making process: “Write down what was decided, as well as why and how much the team supports the decision” (Larson, Pg. 1). Having a snapshot of what led to a decision helps you to see exactly what happened with your team during the decision-making process. Being able to see how you got to this decision will allow you to look back, learn, and refine this process with your team.
Following up on the decision: “Schedule a decision follow-up in one to two months” (Larson, Pg. 1). You need to see if the decision you made is working out, while in its crucial, initial stages. If things are not working, you need to change and make improvements quickly to prevent any further adverse effects.
This list is very detailed, but according to this article, the work put into accessing important decisions will “save an average of 10 hours of discussion, make you decide ten days faster and improve the outcomes of your decisions by 20%” (Larson, pg. 1). A well-researched checklist is a beneficial resource to keep your company on track and avoid major pitfalls.
What if you want a more overall approach to making decisions that drive business success? I found an informative video by Tony Robbins called “Decisions.” His plan discusses how to improve your decision-making abilities in the context of how to make a business more successful.
Focus equals feelings. What are you focusing on? What are your employees focusing on? Some employees focus on their needs and some concentrate on the needs of customers. Hence, some workers might have to be re-evaluated. Focus creates feelings, and that becomes real. If we focus on what we can’t do, we become stressed out and anxious. If we concentrate on finding ways to survive, even in bad times, we start to change.
Falling in love with your clients. Businesses are consumer-driven, and you have to love your customers. If your entire life is about meeting their needs, they will never leave. We only love our customers as long as they buy from us, or do what we want, and if they don’t, then that’s the end. If you want clients for life, fall in love with them. Then you will make decisions differently.
Learning from the past. Look at your past decisions about people or your product. What decisions radically changed the course of your business? Decisions about things like marketing, promotion, offerings, hiring employees, as well as many other things, need to be examined. Focusing on pivotal shifts in the past may help you see the decisions that may not have worked for you, and there may be a lesson in that prior decision that needs to be learned.
Whatever approach you take to help you make wise decisions, I think the most significant aspect to remember is not to be afraid of making mistakes. The decision-maker must also be objective and flexible. If something does not work out, see what can be done about it, as soon as possible.
Tony Robbins says it best when he says, “Mistakes are just learning experiences that can lead to better decisions.”
Have you ever made a really memorable bad work decision? What was the result? What were you able to do to overcome it?
Well written topic of discussion. I have enjoyed ascertaining this piece and will reference your work as a reflection on todays global work environments. Thanks again!
Thank you so much for your feedback Steven. I am so glad to hear that this post was able to help you in some way.
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