Management - Decisions and why we don’t make them
One thing for sure if you are a manager, you are going to be involved in making decisions. I guarantee this 100% and if you’re not involved in decision making then to be perfectly honest, you’re not doing your job. As a manager, if we don’t make decisions, then we will not get things done. As I reflect on past managers who used to manage me, I used to get very frustrated with managers who wouldn’t make one! There is nothing worse than a manager who can’t make a decision. Let's be honest; we see managers likes this as being weak.
Of course, there are so many reasons why managers don’t make decisions, and of course, some are understandable, and some are manufactured by ourselves.
Fear of making the wrong one – Many managers want a 100% guarantee that every decision they make will be the right one. If this is you, I have some news for you, this is impossible. I believe you should embrace when you make a wrong decision as it is an opportunity to learn. Where does this come from? When managers are under excessive pressure to always make the right decision, and the fear of failure has consequences. We can only change that by changing the way we consider mistakes, they are opportunities to learn.
Procrastination – This is where we think about things too much, overthinking a problem to such an extent, we don’t actually make any decisions. We will go round and round looking at all the possible options choices. This is rubbish, follows Nike's advice and 'just do it!'
Fear of being undermined – This is when managers want a bulletproof shield that enables no mistakes to be made because if they are, they will be thought of negatively. Lack of confidence in managing teams is common in this thought process. Being vulnerable is a positive thing and sharing concerns about making a wrong decision builds a team. Unfortunately, it is often the case managers don’t want team members to see them as weak; actually, the opposite is true; it is a sign of strength.
Consequences – Most jobs thankfully allow a degree of mistakes to be made. Unless you’re an Air Traffic Controller or a Brain Surgeon, we can get away with making mistakes. When we do make mistakes though effective reflection is critical. Always ask yourself and write down a) what you did well and then b) what you would do differently next time. On most occasions, there will be things that we did well, but this can be overlooked. Write these areas down after real reflection on what happened.
Remember decision making is essential for any manager, sometimes you will make the right ones and sometimes you will make the wrong ones. In my opinion, not making one is far more destructive and harmful than making one and regretting it.
Ralph Moody is the founder of Target Training and specialises in trainer and management development. You can read more about him here. You can read more about the management courses Ralph delivers training on including the prestigious Foundation Management Development Programme (FMDP) here.