The workplace is full of tough decisions. You might make a few every year. Or even some each week. Hell, your day-to-day might be filled with hard choices. Before you make your next decision, consider asking yourself a few of the following questions:
1. What is my goal? Oftentimes, when we’re doing frequent decision making, it can be easy to get caught-up in knowing the answers, and knowing them quickly. Next time you have a few options in front of you, think all the way back to the beginning. What was the original goal? How will this decision impact that goal? A continual practice of remembering your goals can help to side-step decisions that are caught up in minutiae, don’t serve the organization’s mission, or are wildly off-track.
2. Is this issue important or annoying? Some decisions need to be made because an issue has suddenly appeared. Perhaps it’s a problem with a coworker, a volunteer, an employee, or a business partner. But when it comes to making choices about what to say or do and how to do it, consider that the behavior at hand might be annoying…but not important. Even when something irritates us mightily, we don’t necessarily need to address it. Are we irritated by someone’s behavior or concerned for the business? This is a key question.
3. How often does this typically happen? This question works wonders in all sorts of scenarios. When changing a company policy, think about how often the specific situation usually occurs. In business, check the historical probability that a certain exchange will take place. Creating an awareness around frequency can not only change the decision you make, but also inform how you deal with similar decisions in the future.
4. Is this person’s behavior intentional? Is it consistent? Sometimes we have to make decisions that involve other people. Similar to the question of an issue being important or annoying, it is necessary to consider whether a person’s behavior is intentional as well as consistent. Sometimes people have bad days. And many times, people have no idea how their behavior is affecting other people or making others feel. Before deciding to go into battle with a coworker or employee, do a quick check—does this individual know how they are making you feel, and is their bad behavior a regular occurrence? If so, yes, it might be time for a discussion.
5. Do I need to put my emotion and/or ego on the backburner? Sometimes we may think that we are approaching a decision from an entirely neutral zone. But emotions and egos can be oh-so sneaky. Do a simple self-check-in before you make your next decision. You may find that your own pride, nostalgia, preferences, or other factors are getting in the way of making the best decision for you, your team, and your business.
6. Have I asked the experts? This might seem like a no-brainer, but there are times when we all forget to ask for help, or at least to consult other people. It’s wonderful and important to trust ourselves, but when it comes to decision-making, there’s little harm that can come from inviting other voices into the conversation.
7. How will I share my decision once I’ve made it? This can be a surprising question to bring to the decision-making table, but one that you won’t regret asking. Once you’ve made that hard decision, you’ll surely have to share the results with other people, be they board members, customers, coworkers, supervisors, or family members. Thinking about how you’ll do that—and what their reactions might be—could drastically change the decision you ultimately make.
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