Stop and Think

Posted on Jul 2, 2012

In our fast paced world, it’s easy to feel the pressure to make decisions quickly.

However, making a decision without proper consideration can result in negative consequences for your business.

When we rush into a decision we tend to fall into some of the following traps. Have a read of the below and make sure you avoid them.

1.  You make a decision without all the facts. Whilst we don’t always have all of the information available at the time, having as much information as possible is vital to making a decision which suits the situation. Make sure you take the time to do your research.

2.  Your emotions influence your decision. Learn to recognise when you are reacting emotionally and by this I don’t just mean being angry or upset about a situation. Consider when you might be prejudiced by things like past experiences, the people involved, your preferred choices, etc. If you believe you may be in danger of this, consult someone honest and objective enough to point out when your judgement may be clouded.

3.  You don’t consider the impact on others. Understand the consequences on those involved and ensure you listen to their input. If possible aim to offset any negative impact or at least explain the reasons for a particular decision. There will sometimes be negative consequences for those involved and it’s an important part of your role as decision maker, to ensure you are open and honest, so it doesn’t permanently damage your working relationships.

4.  You misunderstand what decision needs to be made. This may sound a strange one, but sometimes we do misunderstand what decision we need to make – especially if we act quickly. Often this is the result of not assessing the situation correctly but it can be avoided by consulting those involved and conducting proper research.

5.  You adopt a short term fix which fails to address the long term implications. Solutions for the short term often don’t suit the long term. You may risk setting precedents which can be hard to undo in the future, have consequences which cost you in terms of finances and reputation, as well as cause future (avoidable) extra work for you. Confirm if there are any future negative implications and then either aim to offset their effect or alter your decision (if it comes at too much of a cost).

6.  You allow other’s opinions and timeframes to influence or rush your decision making. Be aware that everyone has their own vested interests and their own timeframes. They may try to pressure you to reach a decision which benefits them personally and/or push to get something decided by a specific time. Gather information from everyone involved but after you’ve gathered this information, put the ear plugs in and concentrate on what’s right for the situation, rather than the individual.

7.  You allow the pressure of time to rush your own decision making. Sometimes we may feel ineffective if we don’t act quickly or we may simply want to tick another item off our list. However, it always pays to take the time, especially with important or sensitive situations. Learn to put the ear plugs in when it comes to yourself too!

There are two last things to keep in mind when making decisions:

1.  Decide how much time you will spend on a decision by rating it’s level of importance. For example, the amount of time you devote to deciding on a new staff member should not be the same as which stationery provider to use. The first has important implications for your business and requires considerable effort to correct if it’s the wrong choice. The second has minimal implications and can usually be easily reversed. Assess the implications for your business and then decide how much time to spend on a decision.

2.  Avoid delaying a decision. Although you should always be thorough and take whatever time you need, be careful of procrastination with decisions – especially the tough ones. Sometimes you will need to make tough decisions that are unpopular or may have uncertain outcomes. Do your research, explore the options, address the consequences and then move forward. If it does end up being the wrong decision remember that we all make the wrong decisions sometimes but this is also an important part of the learning process.

I believe that one of the greatest lessons I’ve learned in business is to stop and think. Making decisions in your business and your life are important so make sure you invest some time in them. Next time you have something to decide remember to stop and think – believe me you’ll be glad you did!