What decisions have led you to reading this blog right now?

  •         Opening up a subscribed email?
  •         Selecting the link to this particular blog over or inclusive of others?
  •         Choosing a prescribed or unprescribed part of your day to read this blog?

Many of these decisions would have been made subconsciously, unless you have proactively (consciously) searched to find a blog on decision making.

Interestingly, research shows that we make over 35,000 decisions a day, starting with whether we hit the snooze button on our alarm, and ending on when we decide to go to bed. That’s a lot.

What did Albert Einstein, Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg all have in common? They wore the same outfits each day, eliminating the need for that decision to be made over and over.

Why should I spend time intentionally thinking about decision making?

Whether we are at work or during our personal lives, as mentioned, many of the decisions we make are subconscious (made while we are on autopilot). However, I’m sure we can all agree that work related decisions (whether made for personal or organisational reasons) are made with a higher degree of consciousness given the influence on an outcome such decisions may have, for example:

  •         Do I need to start performance managing an employee?
  •         Which candidate is best suited to our vacant role?
  •         Which would be the best route to take to get to the conference on time?
  •         How and what goals should we set this year?

As we embark on a new year filled with fresh goals and objectives, this blog offers a high-level overview of tools and techniques that can be used to make balanced decisions. In turn, providing an aid to meet such goals, minimise risk and add value to your organisation.

The first decision you could be facing could even be:

  •         How should I formulate our organisation’s strategic goals?
  •         How should I formulate my departments / specialised area’s strategic goals?

Especially if this hasn’t been done, or hasn’t been done successfully in the past.

Decision making process

Before commencing a decision-making process, ask yourself:

  •         Who should be involved in this process? Can I utilise someone else’s expertise?
  •         What were the outcomes of a similar decision that needed to be made before?
  •         What is the level of urgency and importance?

Wherever your situation or need sits in its level of urgency or importance, the below process can assist in making a structured and logical decision:

  1.       Define the real need / decision that needs to be made.

What is my objective in making this decision? 

  1.       Understand the context in which the decision needs to be made

What are the factors that will influence the situation? Who and what will be impacted by your decision?

  1.       Identify the options

What type of analysis can be conducted? Can we get more creative? How can we get diverse perspectives and experiences?

  1.       Evaluate the consequences of each option (decision support analysis)

What is the best analysis tool that can be used to evaluate? Which option has the most acceptable consequences based on the context? What is the probability of negative consequences occurring? Do the pros outweigh the cons?

  1.       Prioritise the options and choose one

Is even no action the possible best action? Is there a culture that supports innovative / risky decision making? Should you conduct an option assessment matrix e.g.:

  •         Objective / probability of meeting objective / value of objective if met; or
  •         Cost V priority; or
  •         Urgency V importance; or
  •         Discretion / authority V goal alignment; or
  •         Ethical V moral)
  1.       Review the decision taken (can it be re-worked)

How can this best be reviewed (data / information) or (periodically, ad hoc or sequentially)?

  1.       Take action

What steps should you take next? Generally this could be:

Make decision > communication to stakeholders (consult, tell, delegate and / or get buy-in) > plan implementation > execute implementation > review.

What makes a good decision maker?

Analysis

Positive

Negative

·         Is thorough in finding root cause / need

·         Conducts analysis using appropriate tools

·         Adapts decision making process to context

·         Seeks external participation

·         Clearly acknowledges limitations

·         Understands the difference between important V urgent

 

·         Looks to solve symptom rather than root cause

·         Does not acknowledge past experiences

·         Lacks understanding of findings / facts

·         Narrow perspective

Judgement

Positive

Negative

·         Extracts relevant key data

·         Challenges risks and limitations

·         Agile and creative throughout process

·         Maintains momentum

·         Can provide tangible and defensible basis for decision

·         Acknowledges and understands accountability

 

·         Only utilises partial data

·         Bias filtering (ignoring factual information / findings in order to support a preconceived decision)

·         Does not prioritise

·         Procrastinates

Communicating a decision

Before communicating, think about:

  •         What people need to be communicated to?
  •         Does different messaging need to be provided based on your target audience?
  •         What content needs to be included in messaging?
  •         What forum or technology can be used to best deliver the decision effectively?
  •         What barriers may prevent your decision being communicated effectively?
  •         What would be the best day, time and situation to deliver a message?
  •         Is there someone else who is best to deliver the message, if not the decision maker?

When communicating, structure by:

 

  1.       Highlighting the situation / need
  2.       Clearly outline the conclusion of decision
  3.       Demonstrate how you got there (analysis’ conducted, or other supporting evidence)
  4.       Respond to adverse outcomes (prepare where possible)
  5.       Finalise and agree how this will be monitored and reviewed (if applicable)

Key takeaways

To enhance the solidity of your decision-making process, foster confidence in the logical choices you make, and to avoid decision fatigue:

  •         Limit choicesRemember our guy’s Albert Einstein, Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg…
  •         Prioritise and delegateUtilise the Eisenhower (urgent V important) Matrix
  •         Set decision-making limitsOnce the limit is reached, defer non-urgent decisions to a later time.
  •         Take breaksRest and reset.
  •         Optimise Your EnvironmentClear space = clear mind, minimal distractions, etc.
  •         Outsource decisionsEspecially where specialised expertise is required.
  •         Utilise TechnologyLeverage tools to automate routine decisions. Set calendar reminders, use task management apps, etc.
  •         Get Adequate Rest and SleepMaximise cognitive function.

About Employment Innovations

Employment Innovations is one of Australia’s leading providers of employment services designed to increase productivity and ensure compliance. Its services and solutions include all the tools that every Australian small to medium sized employer needs – including workplace advice, workplace safety, legal services, payroll solutions, migration, human resource management and HR software.

 

Disclaimer

The information provided in these blog articles is general in nature and is not intended to substitute for professional advice. If you are unsure about how this information applies to your specific situation we recommend you contact Employment Innovations for advice.

 

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