The ability to make decisions is very important in any kind of activity in any area of life. Unfortunately, not many people have this skill.
When it comes to making decisions, we are terrified of the possibility of taking the wrong step. As a result, we sit idle in the hope that the right decision will come naturally over time. You already know that this is not the best path, especially when it comes to the distribution of work tasks and team management. Instead, it makes sense to identify what skills and tips will help you make faster decisions that previously confused you.
Here are six tips to improve your own decision-making skills.
Table of Contents
1. Understand the problem
If you don’t know where to start, Kallet’s advice is to first determine what the problem is – what exactly we have to deal with. By clarifying the essence of the problem, you can better prioritize.
“Most of the mistakes in decision making arise from the fact that you do not fully understand the problem and start not from it, but from the solution found,” explains Kallet.
“What is the purpose of our meeting – is it to make a decision by the time it ends, that is, in an hour, or is it to explore all possible options? asks Teresa Houston, Ph.D., and author of How Women Decide, in an issue of the Harvard Business Review Ideacast. “These are very different goals.”
By understanding the problem and prioritizing accordingly, you will have a basis for making a more informed decision.
2. Get rid of the need to make secondary decisions
Stop for a moment and remember the most famous entrepreneurs in the world. Now imagine their most famous clothing. Strange request, right? But I bet you’re now imagining Steve Jobs’ famous black turtleneck or Mark Zuckerberg’s unchanging gray T-shirt.
We have already discussed the impact that decision fatigue has on the quality of our decisions. By delegating responsibilities, automating work, or even forgoing decisions that you don’t have to deal with personally, you can save mental resources for more important things.
“Advance planning and decision making will take some of that fatigue away,” says Berry.
Preparing the dinner menu for the whole week in advance, shifting the decision of issues that no longer apply to you to the shoulders of another employee – this clearing of mental space can help you a lot.
3. Choose multiple options
“Most people stick to plan A and never think about plans B, C, or D,” says Dr. Jaffa. When trying to make a decision, it is important to find options that are truly different from each other.
Huston explains that we easily fall into the trap of being limited to one choice, but convincing ourselves that there really are two: “We often think: should I do this or not? Hire Samantha or not? Should I take a break and walk for half an hour or not? In each of these cases, we have only one choice – I either change something, or stay the same.
Generally, Houston says, it’s best to pick three good alternatives. She gives the example of a company deciding whether to build a garage.
“Instead of choosing between having or not having a garage, here are three options: build a garage, give all employees bus passes, or let them work one day from home,” she continues. “These are all solutions to the same problem, but they are very different from each other.”
If you find several possible choices, the quality of the final decision will naturally increase as well. In doing so, you really choose the best opportunity, and do not limit yourself to yes or no frames.
4. Develop a structured approach
It is rather strange to try to structure decision making. But believe me: it can be a good help for you.
“A great way to minimize the impact of fixation and other cognitive biases is to carefully structure your decision-making process,” advises Berry. “Training the brain to follow the same routine can help reduce the impact of extraneous memories.”
It may seem too complicated, but this is a deceptive impression. Your procedure can be quite simple – for example, come up with a sequence of questions that you will ask yourself every time you have to make another decision.
“Therefore, the most effective project managers always have a clear view of possible risks and dependencies when drawing up a project plan,” Berry continues. “Flow charts, action plans in difficult situations and decision matrices not only help to get rid of cognitive distortions, but also help to make decisions in advance based on a whole block of possible scenarios.”
Sit down and think about how you could structure your decision-making process. Whether it’s a sequence of steps to take or items to consider, a chart like this will help you make choices with all the information you need.
5. Postpone the decision
Most likely, you have already heard that before making an important decision, you need to “sleep” with him. If before you rolled your eyes and considered it a banality, we advise you not to dismiss it so quickly. As it turns out, by postponing an important decision a little, you can actually make the most successful choice.
“Whether you actually sleep or not, the bottom line is that it’s always good to push back the moment of choice a little,” Houston says. “It may not be possible to delay it for a week, but even one hour can significantly affect the result.”
6. Look from the side
When you’re trying to solve a problem, it’s easy not to see the forest for the trees. That is why scientists advise looking at the situation by asking yourself one question: What advice would you give to a friend in the same situation? An outside perspective can give a more objective picture and help to take into account all the available information and different points of view on the problem.
This is supported by research from the University of Waterloo and the University of Michigan. The researchers conducted a survey among 100 people and asked a question about relationships. Some were asked to imagine that their partner or spouse was cheating on them, others that their friend was the victim of infidelity. Participants then filled out a questionnaire that assessed their rational thinking skills.
“As the researchers expected, respondents who tried to help a friend showed a more rational approach than those who thought of themselves,” explains Melissa Dahl in an article in thecut.
If you feel like you can’t decide on anything, try using the same tactics and look at the situation from the outside. Ultimately, this will help to find a more reasonable solution.
It’s time to make the right decisions
The ability to make the right decisions is one of the most important components of effective leadership. But, unfortunately, this is often easier said than done.
If you (like many of us) find it difficult to make decisions, here are some helpful strategies that can help you develop this valuable skill:
- Figure out what exactly the problem is.
- Leave secondary decisions to others.
- Find some decent choices.
- Develop a schema or process for making a decision.
- Take a break and put off finding a solution for a bit.
- Think about what advice you would give to a friend if they were in the same situation.
By trying at least some of these strategies, you are guaranteed to improve your ability to make better decisions fast.