WORKPLACE / SEP. 02, 2014
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How to Speed Up Your Decision Making Process

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Solid decision making skills are important for anyone who wants to excel in the workplace. If you have issues with making confident and informed decisions, you will have a more difficult time achieving your professional career goals and excelling in the workplace. Alice Waagen is the President of Workforce Learning which is a leadership development company. Their company provides career advice and training to professionals who are interested in further developing their knowledge and skillset. In a recent BizJournals.com article, Ms. Waagen discussed her opinion on how professionals can speed up their decision making process. This article will share the steps that Ms. Waagen addressed.

Advice from a Professional Business Consultant

Ms. Waagen is a regular contributor to BizJournals.com and each week she responds to questions from readers regarding workplace and management issues. In this article, a reader presented the following scenario to Ms. Waagen.

  • The reader stated that colleagues had been telling him that he made decisions too slowly. In his employee review, he’d received the following report—he was “bottlenecking their workflow.” Apparently, his boss thought he made decisions too slowly, obsessed over every detail and that hindered the team’s progress.

Basically, this reader wanted to know how he could implement a better decision-making process while at work. Currently, this individual utilized the following process.

  • Identification of various solutions
  • Analyzing the pros and cons
  • Using a criteria chart to determine the best action plan

Cultivating your Decision Making Process

In response to the reader’s question, Ms. Waagen wrote, “I’m not sure that you need a new decision making process.” In her opinion, the reader already had some excellent building blocks in place with regard to the decision making process. She further explained, “The one you describe is great for critical issues where failure or mistakes could have huge impact.” Her major criticism was that if the reader utilized this “criteria matrix” for all of his decision making processes, it was highly probable that it could be perceived as a roadblock to the team’s progress. Ms. Waagen suggested a new method that would speed up the process. She further advised that the more in-depth process which the reader already had in place would be better suited for more critical decisions. Her suggestions are listed below.

1. Follow Your Gut Instincts

Ms. Waagen advised that it is important to follow your gut instincts. “Every day make at least three decisions in less than three minutes each. Then grab your initial reaction and go.” She suggested that this technique should be utilized for “low-impact” decisions. For example, use it when deciding where to go to eat lunch. The theory is that you should slowly begin to expand your horizons and begin to make “gut-check” decisions regarding more important issues. According to Ms. Waagen, as you continue to follow your gut instincts in your decision making process—“your confidence will increase and the ‘analysis paralysis’ will decrease.”

2. Learn How to Delegate

Learning how to delegate is another vital factor in becoming a better decision maker. Ms. Waagen suggests that you should “delegate at least three moderately important decisions to staff or project leads.” This step is where managers, team leaders and employees can ascertain colleague’s decision making acumen. According to Ms. Waagen, delegating to employees and team members “empowers them to move ahead on the work instead of waiting for you to say ‘stop’ or ‘go’.”

3. Review and Evaluate

Being able to constructively review and evaluate your decision making process is a final factor that should be cultivated. Ms. Waagen advised that it’s important to “conduct decision debriefs on all major decisions 30 – 60 days after they’re implemented.” The theory behind this step is to ascertain whether or not the time spent in analysis provided any real value. If that was not the case, then it is possible that a shorter vetting period could have been more successful.  

Speeding up your decision making process can be made easier by following the advice mentioned in this article. Ms. Waagen’s advice is viable and can lead toward cultivating a more successful process. Follow your gut instincts. Learning how to delegate to team members is important for developing a strong workplace unit. The review and evaluation process is just as important as the first two steps. However, Ms. Waagen also advises that it’s important to remember that “speed is not the best factor to use in evaluating decisions; rather, it’s the quality of the decision that counts.”

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