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“In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing you can do is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing.”

With these words, President Teddy Roosevelt wisely summarized the core of effective decision making.

Like all skills, being a good decision maker requires practice and a well-honed process. Learning it starts with acknowledgement of the factors that influence decisions, including emotions, perceived risks and rewards, stress and deadlines. You need to alleviate any irrational factors and embrace the rational ones. When all is said and done, decision making is one of your most critical business skills.

A Decision-Making Checklist

Good decision making comes down to four basic steps: identifying the problem or issue, analyzing possible solutions or outcomes, evaluating the possibilities, and then making a choice and taking action. Use this checklist to structure your own decision-making process:

  • Assess the situation. Take time to accurately identify the circumstances and then organize any challenges that must be addressed. Listen to your intuition as you gather facts. Be clear on the ultimate objective, and seek out all the strengths and weaknesses to stay out of trouble. Don’t get too absorbed in the urgency of having to make a move that you fail to see the full picture.
  • Take a fresh perspective. Step back and look at the issue with new eyes. Always make decisions based on letting the past guide you while looking ahead to the future. Involve others as appropriate to provide additional data points and insights. Remember to be clear about their roles.
  • Consider all the options. Brainstorm and generate the most alternatives possible. Be creative. Think outside the box and don’t rule anything out – even possibilities that may seem absurd at first. Analyze each one, considering the positives, the negatives and who and what it would impact. Are they achievable? Do they meet your long-term goals?
  • Get unstuck. The answer may not always be crystal clear, but the only way to find out is to take a deep breath, gather courage, and make the decision. It can be difficult. You may become stalled because nothing seems acceptable. Know that every decision is a compromise and none is ever without its down side. A big part of your effectiveness is knowing when to be decisive.
  • Communicate and implement your decision. Convey the necessary details, as well as your expected outcomes, to everyone who will be affected. Continue to provide updates as you implement the related action plan. In doing so, be aware that anxiety due to change is part of the process. This does not mean you’ve made the wrong choice.
  • Recap and learn from everything you have done. Build awareness of what is working and what is not. Share this newfound knowledge and revise your plans as necessary. Evaluation is critical to gaining experience in making decisions and improving your ability to continue doing so. By applying lessons learned, you will better recognize similar situations in the future. The key is to be effective, not just to be right or wrong.

The recruitment and retention partners at Pridestaff Modesto can provide ongoing workforce growth solutions including better leadership, communication and decision-making skills. In addition to helping you build your industry-leading team, we can assist as you develop employee skills and foster their ongoing growth. Contact us today for more information.

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