- You spend more of your valuable time on making the decision than the decision itself is worth (just look at all of the hours spent driving around trying to decide on where to eat or the wasted time of searching and searching for the best price only to save $20.)
- You don’t build the confidence of your team in your leadership. Who wants to follow someone who isn’t sure.
- You frustrate the person waiting on your decision in order for them to move forward.
- You create limbo, a stasis of inactivity and inefficiency, of those waiting on the decision.
- The situation or opportunity could deteriorate or evaporate while waiting on you.
- You stay burdened because the weight of the indecision stays in the back of your mind until you decide.
- Indecision breeds inconsistency, and inconsistency sucks too.
So if you are stuck in the uncomfortable spot of not being able to make decisions easily, we need to change that now, for you and everyone around you!
Here is my suggestion.
You need a process.
A Decision-Making Process Makes For Better Decisions
You are indecisive for a reason. Maybe you don’t have enough information. Maybe you are afraid someone won’t be happy regardless of your decision. Maybe you have a track record of making bad decisions so now you just don’t make any.
Here is one decision-making process that will cover many types of decisions.
1. What is the goal of the decision? I need a new email marketing system for my newsletter.
2. What are the most important criteria for the best decision? It needs to be easy to use, give me specific reports, get through spam blockers, and be in a cost range of less than $50.00 per month.
3. Gather the information. If you delegate the task of getting an email marketing system to someone else, they need to do the research and get you the information based on the decision-making criteria. If they don’t bring you the right information, send them back. Don’t just sit on it and be indecisive because you don’t have enough, or the right information, to make a decision.
4. Review the information. Which option achieves the goal and the most important criteria? Pick that one. If there is more than one, just pick, all of them will achieve the goal. If none of them meet the criteria, you need to assess your criteria to determine if it is reasonable. Make adjustments, and repeat the process.
This seems easy enough, right?
Delegating the Information Gathering
Most of the time in a small business, people ask you for decisions in the hallway, while you are driving, or in a random meeting on another topic. They will give you the information off of the top of their head.
It will go something like this:
You are walking down the hall with keys in hand running to an out of office meeting.
Employee: Hey remember asking me to look at email marketing systems?
Employee: There are lot’s of them. They do everything. There is Constant Contact, iContact and one called Monkey Chimp…or Mail Chimp….something like that. Which one do you want me to get?
You: Which one do you think we should get?
E: I like Constant Contact, but the monkey one is cheaper. Supposedly they all do the same thing. Should I get the monkey one since it is the cheapest?
Y: You said you liked Constant Contact. What did you like more about it?
E: I don’t know, it just had cool templates. Should I get that one?
Y: (exasperated and late now) No, just hold up. I’ll look at them.
Now you are in the land of indecision! The ball is in your court. And, the decision postponed, waiting on you to get the information, or to magically make the decision.
When you delegate the task, you must tell the person what you need to make a decision. Even if you are the one doing the research, you will keep spinning your wheels yourself if you do not have the goal, criteria, and information to make the decision.
Decision-Making Is Not A Popularity Contest
What if someone is still mad at you because you didn’t make the decision they wanted you to?
Now you have foundational information to walk them through why you made this particular decision. If it is logical, meaning it met the goal and the decision criteria, the unhappy people will have a better understanding. If they don’t, then you can’t worry about them. They may be the type that just isn’t ever happy unless they get their way.
As a leader, we sometimes have to make unpopular decisions.
Using the above process will insure that you make better decisions, which in the end is more important than popular.