Despite this fact very few of us take the time to think about how we make decisions, and what prohibits us from doing a better job in this process.
What are the impediments to making good decisions?
Let's explore three impediments standing in the way of improving our decision-making abilities that enable us to reach our career goals.
The first roadblock is that we choose the wrong modes for making decisions.
Three modes for making decisions
Dr. Frank Petrock, a management consultant, says we consciously or unconsciously choose one of three styles for making decisions. These are command, consultation, and consensus. Each has its own place.
-- Command is appropriate when immediate action is necessary, but the issue is not earthshaking. You can count on others to get it done. You, as the leader, say, "This is the answer. You take care of it.
-- Consultation should be used when time permits, the quality of the decision is critical and cooperation of others can be assumed. You seek the advice and ideas of several players, mull them over and announce a decision.
-- Consensus is desirable when the decision must be right and the cooperation of others has to be won. Everyone throws out suggestions; they are discussed and general agreement is achieved.
Any one of these styles can lead to good decisions, but applied in the wrong setting any one can be counterproductive.
Career tip: Ask the right questions.
A second reason we don't make good decisions is that we fail to ask the right questions. What decision is to be made? What are the implications of the decisions? What are the components of the issues? What is the risk-gain ratio?
A third obstacle is that we seek to know more than we need to know to come to a good decision. In even the simplest decisions, there is always an opportunity to gather more data, hear more opinions and get more advice.
People go on looking for more information for various reasons. One is that it is a good way to put off making a decision. More data is fodder for a lively curiosity. Or calling for more and more input can be the result of an over-cautious manager who is frightened of being wrong.
We can become addicted to information. It is easy to fall into the trap of trying to devour every bit of available data. We are deluded into believing that information is knowledge and that knowledge is wisdom that will enable us to make good decisions. We become fast fact junkies. Gathering facts is not making decisions.
The good decision-maker learns to spend whatever time and resources it takes to gather enough information to shift the odds in his favor for making a good decision.
It's good to remember Napoleon's advice about making decisions: "Take time to deliberate, but when the time for action has arrived, stop thinking and go in."
Career tip: Somebody has to make the decision
Finally, our ability to make decisions can be stymied because we don't want to take responsibility for the result. A meeting is called and a problem is outlined. We participate in a discussion that drones on, going nowhere. Nobody wants to step up and make the decision. Another study is called for and another meeting date is set and so on. Crippling inertia is the result.
Indecision is to be avoided at all cost. There is often a greater risk involved in postponing a decision than in making a wrong one. Career success is in making good, timely decisions.
For free advice on how to achieve your career goals, please go to http://www.commonsenseatwork.com. You'll receive Ramon Greenwood's free semi-monthly newsletter. You can also visit his Your Blog For Career Advice via this route. Greenwood's common sense career advice comes from a world of experience, including serving as Senior Vice President of American Express, an entrepreneur, professional director, career coach, and author.
© 2008 Ramon Greenwood
The views and opinions expressed in these articles do not necessarily reflect those of College Central Network, Inc. or its affiliates. Reference to any company, organization, product, or service does not constitute endorsement by College Central Network, Inc., its affiliates or associated companies. The information provided is not intended to replace the advice or guidance of your legal, financial, or medical professional.