Decision MakingDecision Making

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One of the world's most memorable quotes is from Shakespeare's Hamlet - to be or not to be is all about a decision. It is a dramatic example of someone dealing with a critical decision. Freely making and executing a decision is at the very essence of human life.

Only human beings have the developed capacity of assessing situations and making considered decisions, which includes evaluating the consequences of decisions before going ahead and executing them. It has been could be said that decision making is central to good management and is one of the key functions of all managers at all levels.

The 3 basic approaches

There are three basic approaches for decision making, which are:

1 Delay

This is the approach of inaction. It is amazing that many people will work so hard to avoid a decision. For example, you can keep keeping the decision under constant review, passing it back and fore to your boss or simply leave it until it becomes forgotten or results in a crisis. Managers that use this approach often survive but they are never respected. This type of manager is a costly liability to the organization.

2 Instant decisions

This is the intuition or John Wayne / Sylvester Stallone style and it can be impressive and certainly gets results. Of course, there are times in emergencies that you need to make very fast decisions but they should never be instant. Instant decisions will:

? Use best hunches instead of rational thought powers

? Ignore potentially damaging side effects and consequences

? Give the impression that all decisions have the same importance

3 The professional approach

The professional This approach is based on sound decision making processes using logical steps and an effective thinking process. You may need you to revaluate your current methods and to change your habits but it is the only way to consistently succeed in making valid decisions and performing as an effective manager. Of course, this approach will not guarantee that you make the right decision every time but your success rate will go up dramatically. So I hope that you agree that we should reject approaches 1 and 2 and commit ourselves to the professional approach, which is also known as the rational analysis decision method making.


Take a positive approach to decision making Don't scowl or look disinterested when you are asked for a decision as that will hardly inspire confidence.

Don't avoid decisions

If you demonstrate a negative approach to your team they may stop asking you for decisions and the results will be chaos. Always respond positively even if you are unable to give a final decision there and then.

Make decisions!

Your team has the right to expect you to make decisions or they may stop asking you for them and this will result in chaos. Sometimes you have to make the decision not to make a decision. At least you have made a decision and people will respect you if you have valid reasons. So use this as an effective opportunity for involving people and getting their understanding. You need to explain " why " because the decision may affect him much more than it does you.

Types of decisions

There are three types of decisions that you will need to manage, which. These are: ? Autocratic - you make the decision alone and accept full responsibility

? Consultative - you request help usually from your boss

? Group - you allow your group to fully participate in the decision

The majority of your decisions will be autocratic but on occasions you will have need to consult someone else.

However, it is important to think about how to use the three types of decision. For example, if you consult too much your superiors will begin to wonder why they need you. On the other hand it would be foolish to make important decisions that are outside your level of expertise or have consequences that affect others outside your own group without some consultation. Group decisions have more limited use but it can be useful to have the input of everyone sometimes. However, the final decision must be yours so be careful that you don't overuse this type of decision as you must not delegate your authority to the group.

Decision before the decision

The first step is to understand what is involved in the decision and why it needs to be taken. This is often called the decision before the decision. For example, you may find that someone has over reacted and that a decision is not really necessary. So you decide not to make a decision. Sounds obvious but so many managers miss this first step and get themselves into all sorts of unnecessary messes.

by Christopher J Thomas
References and Bibliography

Chris Thomas is the author of the Managers Toolbox training material located at and runs the very successful Basic Management Course for new leaders and supervisors.

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