Making decisions is an art and a science. Science as leaders acquire specific facts and information, and an art that requires skills to present the decision.
How do you make tough decisions?
Waiting too long to make a decision can be as bad as making a decision too quickly based on partial facts and only one perspective. The answer, for you, depends upon:
- what makes a decision tough in the first place
- what facts you have
- what skills you need to communicate the decision effectively and in a timely manner
Whether it is a performance issue or a new product launch, there are key steps to overcoming the challenges of making tough decisions:
- Determine your desired outcome and target date. Clarity about what you want to achieve will go a long way toward ensuring you take the right steps.
- Consider the short-term and long-term implications.
- Do you have enough facts to make the decision? Always ensure sufficient information has been gathered and that the right people have had input.
- Do you own this decision? If you are the ultimate decision-maker then input is just that: it is not about consensus.
- Review the information you have gathered but avoid over-analyzing and getting stymied. Making decisions is usually about acting in the right time, and not about waiting until you have 100% of the facts.
- Planning is key. Eighty-five percent of success comes from planning.
- Determine when, where and, most important, how the decision will be communicated.
- Know what you will say and then focus on the delivery.
- Determine who will be affected by the decision. Prepare for a ripple effect beyond the immediate team. I have seen organizations downsize without proper input, only to discover that a person with key knowledge about future work has been let go. In one case the organization had to hire the person back on contract…for more money. Do the homework.
- What is really holding you back? If a decision is required and it is not happening fast enough, ask the questions:
- Are you avoiding the risk of being wrong because you must always be right?
- Are you shying away from disagreement or conflict? Not everyone is going to like every decision; being a leader means making the calls and dealing with those who don’t agree. Building strong trusting relationships is important, so that even those who disagree will support the decision.
Reframe how you think about decisions – don’t look at them as tough, accept there are decisions to be made and that you are capable of making them. Plan well and get the right input. It is critical to make timely decisions. Build trusting relationships that will provide support. The more you practice the more proficient you will become. Decision-making does not need to be tough. Embrace decisions and have fun.