I’m writing this post based on experiences I had within the last weeks. I’ve noticed both good and bad examples for something I’ve taken for granted as a base skill: Living decisions. The post is about the “ABC” of living decisions, the difficulty, the importance of achieving clarity within an organization and handling change in a constructive and fair way. Keep on reading for my thoughts on staying authentic and building trust in your decision skills!
Give guidance and clarity with decisions.
Making decisions in a complex environment can be tough and having to make them might be a high pressure. That shouldn’t keep you from making them. In turn, I find it even more important to bring guidance into an organization with precise decisions when the environment resembles a jungle for everyone else.
Nothing is worse than a missing decision, because waiting for directions is exhausting for a team. Plus, the loss of momentum due to unfocused people can hardly be caught up again later. This can ruin a team’s positive attitude, especially when the pressure from above is high. With a decision being made, a desperate situation might quickly turn into fruitful environment.
On the other hand: Consciously not making a decision can be a valid approach as well. I don’t see a weakness in that as long as it’s clear, why a specific topic cannot be decided yet and what the next steps towards a decision will be. I still don’t like it if that joker is pulled too often, though.
Facing a tough decision, I follow a pattern: Gather all information needed to assess the risk and impact of your decision. Validate the intended decision and the direction it would imply. Talk to colleagues about their opinion. Consider your boss (shouldn’t go there without having your own idea about concrete options!). Make the decision and be very clear about it to everyone who might be affected.
What if a decision turns out to be wrong?
In today’s endeavors, things are changing rapidly. New aspects or risks suddenly appear that have been hidden before. What if a decision turns out to be not working out? What if a direction has been set, but the parameters have changed on the way? What if you have promised something, but cannot keep your word under the new circumstances?
One way to deal with it: Stick to the decision! With full confidence that the decision was right and still remains valid – although indicators changed – it makes sense to stick with it. I see that as absolutely valid and necessary to guide a team through the storm. I see it as a positive characteristic and as personal strength to do so and keep the path when doubts distract from a chosen path! Especially important, in case you’re facing situations where a group tries to constantly re-open a made decision.
Don’t stick to a decision just for the sake of it.
There’s a fine line between visionary guidance and blindly ignoring change. Latter can ruin a project success and in any case will decrease the trust put into the decision maker. Without that trust, guidance won’t be easy later on as the faith into the leader would be damaged.
Be open to change. Embrace it as a chance to adapt your original path and focus on a specific target. Grab new opportunities by dropping old constraints.
I’ve experienced that people either don’t notice that their former decision is due for a change or (in case they notice) they don’t want to go through this change. Why should someone confess that he’s decided something that’s no longer valid and take the burden of even communicating it actively?
The ABC of refining decisions.
Because it saves time and resources for an organization and brings them to the goal much quicker! The same best practices apply like for making a decision in the first place:
- A – Assessment: Better assessment makes the new decision more profound and reliable.
- B – Background: A clear answer to the “Why?” helps to seed understanding and commitment.
- C – Clarity: A quick and direct communication into the organization facilitates a quicker change of focus. Everyone must be clear about the change.
For decisions that affect me, such transparency has always helped me to understand changing directions along the journey. I personally appreciate openness and the insight to decision-making on every level. I honor the courage of others who admit changing decisions openly. On the other hand, giving this transparency to my team has always turned out positively. It allowed me to guide my teams quicker!
Sounds complicated? Isn’t! Learn to rely on your instincts.
In many cases, your instincts will guide you right. Just look back and re-think how often your well-assessed decisions have turned out identical to your spontaneous ones. If the matches are high, your gut feeling can speed up your decision process tremendously!
How often do your instincts get it right and what are your arguments in case you need to change? Do you change?