In the workplace, the most important you do is make decisions. Whatever your role or specialism, from CEO to customer service, you’re making decisions all the time, and the results of those decisions stack up into a reputation that can see you promoted for success, or remain stationery indefinitely if you’re not showing results.
You need to be able make decisions that you know will lead to good results, with the sort of informed, precise decision making process that means you can predict just how much a project will cost, when it will finish and what the outcome will be.
Today we’re putting the decision making process under the magnifying glass to see just how you can come out on top when you’re facing a dilemma at work.
You need data to work with when you’re making decisions, whether that’s reports on the performance of your sales teams across the course of a year, or quantitative market research so you can begin to predict how your consumers will react to changes, any major decision has to be backed by research.
You need to make sure you don’t fall into some common fallacies in your decision making. These are tempting mental traps that can feel good even as they lead you down a path towards a bad outcome at best or disaster at worst.
For example, don’t fall for the lure of the false economy. Of course, it makes good sense to save money where you can and avoid overspending, but paring every expense back to the bone means creating trouble in your future. Saving money by not getting a lawyer to sign off on our contracts makes it a little cheaper to sign, but it means you could have some serious and costly surprises down the road.
Try also to ignore the desire to take action when you’ve not thought it through. “Something must be done, this is something so we must do it” is a thought process it’s difficult to escape, but it’s a recipe for disaster. Making sure you stick to your research means you can help to avoid these thought-traps, as you have to justify every action to yourself using the data you’ve gathered.
The most important part of getting your decisions acted upon is how you present them.
Make sure when you’re showing people your ideas, whether it’s in a meeting or a less formal chat, lead with the problem you want to solve, and how solving it will benefit the company. Explain your method, and ensure your research is evident. This also makes it easier to answer questions.
People will feel like you’re trying to blind them with statistics if they have to wade through all your raw figures to reach your conclusion – so include your full sheaf of research and interpretation as an appendix, rather than letting it come between people and your ideas.