HRM Online: 2 questions that will help you master decision making - Michelle Gibbings

You make choices every day, but have you ever sat back and thought about the process behind your decision making?

To figure out how to go about things, ask yourself these two questions. To find out what these questions are, read the full article on the Human Resources Media website.

You make choices every day, but have you ever sat back and thought about the process behind your decision making? Here are two questions you need to ask first and why.

It was the esteemed management guru Peter Drucker who said that good decision making is a crucial skill at every level. In a complex and ever-changing world, the need for HR executives to be able to make good decisions is more critical than ever.

Good decisions are the result of deliberate planning, consideration and effort – they don’t happen by chance. A clear decision making process makes it easier to involve the right people, at the right time.

To figure out how to go about things, ask yourself:

  • What’s the level of buy in I need for the decision?
  • Who has the knowledge that’s needed to help me make the decision?

By considering these two factors, you are able to determine who needs to be involved in making the decision and why. When you make a decision alone and consult no one, you run the risk of having a disengaged team or stakeholders that don’t support the outcome. Additionally, you’re assuming you have all the information you need to make the best decision, which might not be the case. In fact, research shows that diverse teams make better decisions, as they ensure different views are considered.

Taking an autocratic approach to decision making should be applied cautiously. It can, for example, be useful in times of a crisis, where quick decisions need to be taken. However, when you are leading change, it’s better to take a consultative approach where you seek input from those around you. This, too, should be applied thoughtfully, as you need to be aware of which ideas you are listening to and which you are discarding.

For example, listening to different opinions might on the surface appear like you’re getting great involvement from others, but it could be the case that the louder voices are the only ones getting through, and so outlier opinions are inadvertently excluded.

A collaborative decision making process builds commitment to the decision, creating more engaged teams and stakeholders. But adopting such a process doesn’t automatically mean the decision is made unanimously. The decision might be based on consensus, a majority decision or one person making the decision. That’s a choice that needs to be made at the start.

In circumstances where you need strong buy-in, pursuing a consensus outcome is worthwhile. Consensus doesn’t mean everyone has to agree with every element of the decision, but it is something that everyone is willing to live with.

Good leaders make good decisions. This doesn’t mean they always get it right, but they are open to learning, questioning and being challenged. Knowing who you need to consult with and get buy-in from are the first steps towards perfecting the process.