Making decisions

Content provided by a guest contributor.

complex_decision.jpgHaving the ability to make sound and sometimes quick decisions is crucial for running your own business successfully. There are various factors that affect our ability to be able to make good decisions. Let is explore some of them:

  1. Are you able to make up your mind? Some people have personality profiles that make it easy for them to be decisive or make decisions under pressure. Other personality types tend to be more analytical or flexible and see many options rather than solutions. Under stress they will tend to become even more analytical or indecisive: the options to choose from are just too many! You need to know what kind of person you are and how your ability to make decisions is affected by stress.
  2. Can you think of alternatives in most situations? You need to be able to come up with a few options of how to address an issue you are facing. Often when we are under stress though the “thinking brain” shuts down and we either react from an instinctive or emotional space – neither of which is helpful.
  3. How do you tend to handle important decisions? Do you take time to reflect, weigh up the pros and cons or do you jump in and make a quick decision?
  4. To what extent are you influenced by other people’s opinions? Are you able to work out solutions for yourself or do you become indecisive when you have heard other people’s input? We will always find people not agreeing with us or doubting our opinion.
  5. What constraints do you place on yourself? For example, do you ever say “I can’t…”, “I don’t think I will succeed in…”, “I am not in a position to…". These are some examples of beliefs we have about ourselves. These beliefs in turn will impact on our decision making ability – often without us even realising it.
  6. Do you take time to establish whether you have any influence over the outcome of a situation?
  7. If you have made a poor decision, can you own it and take corrective action? Or do you tend to blame circumstances, suppliers or whoever?
  8. Have you some feeling for when you need to delay making a decision instead of feeling pressurised to go ahead?

Tips on how to enhance your decision making skills

Define the actual problem or challenge: what is the real underlying issue? Is it just a “superficial” problem or is there something deeper that needs to be addressed?

What would you like to achieve? You need to be very clear on your goal and set it out in specific, measurable terms. Unless you do, the chances are good that you'll bumble along without reaching your objective. Sometimes we think we know what we want, but as times moves on we find that either our objective has changed or our view of the situation has changed. So, take some time to work out exactly what you want and why.

Where you have little or no control over the outcome, give some thought to what you “wish” for ideally. Have this wish clear in your mind and then “let it go”. Shift your focus to keeping a positive attitude and recalling your ideal outcome.

When faced with a situation where you are unsure as to what you must do: DON’T do anything. Playing for time will give room for your intuition to the come to the fore – when you least expect it. Some of us like to keep these kinds of unclear or tricky issues to ourselves – to incubate till we find an answer.

Others like to talk to other people and obtain their input. The latter is fine if you are able to be decisive and make up your own mind at some stage. Friends or family are often quick to give reasons against something, so look for someone whose judgment you trust, to use as a sounding board.

Remember, you are bound to make poor decisions along the way. As one large retail business owner said – just do not make the same mistake twice! Apologise and move on. See “mistakes” as learning opportunities.

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