You admire the ability of a leader to make quick decisions—you call it “decisiveness”—and more importantly, you revere the leader who makes good decisions. Decision debacles can be avoided best when you understand your current processes, when you are regularly communicating your decision making process, and when you establish the criteria from your facts that create a good decision. Here are three ways to think more clearly and avoid decision debacles.
Make sure you understand current processes and allegiances.
Every successful organization depends on collaboration between its employees, the leadership of individuals who may not have the title but do have the respect of staff, and interactions that are taken for granted but are vital to the company’s functioning. Collaboration must take place for the decision to be effective.
- Debacle #1: The Vice President of Sales decided that divisions should compete with each other for sales leadership and higher commissions. As a result, division managers who previously shared their sales techniques and referrals, stopped sharing and stopped referring. Sales plummeted, resentment soared, and turnover increased.
- Solution #1: The Vice President of Sales decides to evaluate the way sales are being generated to determine how to increase them. She gathers data, facts, and ultimately makes her decision based on what will work best for the employees and company as a whole.
Communicate often and share the decision making.
A decision is most likely to succeed when it is rooted in several peoples priorities. Decisions by a leader absolutely require cooperation by the team being led. In the best case, the team will have an understanding of the problem, be given time to study solutions and present their own ideas, and have a clear understanding of their roles in implementing or supporting the final decision.
- Debacle #2: To impress the client, the leader wanted the project to come in ahead of time and told everyone in the team to speed up. As a result, team members sacrificed quality for speed, became stressed by the situation, and lost motivation as they realized they were producing sub-par work. After the client received the project, much of the work had to be re-done, completely negating the benefits of early delivery.
- Solution #2: The leader consulted with their team on how to best exceed their clients expectations. They came up with a plan as a group and executed the work with a clear goal in mind. The team was full of energy and each felt like they contributed to the success of the project. The project came in ahead of schedule and with outstanding results that far surpassed the clients expectations.
It may be easy to neglect communicating with your staff about your decisions when there is a time crunch involved. It is always important to consider and listen to every person’s opinion before making a change that might impact them. Try to give yourself as much time as possible and when time is exceptionally pressing, let your staff know right after making your decision and discuss their thoughts and concerns to ensure that you are on the same page.
Change your decision criteria based on analysis and fact-finding.
After a leader makes a successful decision, inertia sets in. The same criteria is used over and over to justify the same decision, without consideration for changing circumstances or the true obstacles to meeting a goal. Analysis and fact-finding are critical in every decision and can not be dismissed as unnecessary.
When you base your decisions on conditions outside company control, like an economic downturn, you adopt a crisis management routine. You assume each problem had similar causes to the previous problems and therefore, you handle them the same way. When you acknowledge that each problem is unique and that each decision must reflect that fact, you triumph!
- Debacle #3: Any time sales of a product drop, the product manager demands an increase in the product’s features without investigation into cause-and-effect or consumer preferences. Unfortunately for the product manager, the most recent drop in sales stemmed from feature overload. When the team added even more features, sales dropped even further.
- Solution #3: Any time sales of a product drop, the product manager consults with other departments in the company to narrow down the necessary action required. Their solutions are always determined by the underlying issue as opposed to the surface level problem.