We all have to make decisions on a daily basis – as much as 35,000 a day according to some statistics.

A decision can be something small such as what socks / shoes should I wear today to those big decisions like; buying a house, a car, changing jobs, that big strategic decision to save your company or take a risk to make it grow… No matter how big or small a decision, getting it right is what we all want and seeing as we make up to 35,000 a day, it should come naturally to us, but does it?

Decidophobia is a phrase that was originally coined by Princeton University philosopher, Walter Kaufmann and I think this is a more common problem than we think in the business environment.

In Leadership, decision-making is critical. Not only to make a decision but make the right decision.

In the book “The first 90 days”  by Michael D Watkin, it is the first decision that a leader makes that is most remembered so if it is wrong it could be career damaging; if it is right then a immediate positive impact is made.

However, I believe that many managers and leaders simply find it hard to make a decision and this made me wonder why.

Indecisiveness is a productivity killer!blog pic

I hear this regularly from my clients and staff. I see the results in our survey data – employees want fast, clear communication, they want answers, so why then do so many people at management level find it hard to make a decision?

I put it down to a few things:

  1. The fear of failure
  2. They are not informed appropriately to make a decision
  3. Decidophobia – maybe this is a real phobia!
  4. Lack of accountability
  5. Too hard!

There are so many factors involved – the world has become more complex, more uncertain. The collaborative problem solving approach takes more time and everyone has a different view which often prolongs the decision making process, in a world of real-time feedback this may not be the approach.

The directive approach is quicker and provides a quick answer. At least people know where they stand but this alienates and dis-engaged employees if they do not agree.

So what is the answer?

Here are some Tips:

  • Firstly: Do not Panic!
  • Look at the Pros and cons. I often revert to good old pen and paper – write down what the benefits would be and what the consequences / impacts could be to the decision.
  • If it is urgent make the call and back yourself!
  • If it is not urgent then take some time to think – digest the information you have
  • Ask around – ask at the ground level as well as upward and peers/networks. (Don’t forget front-line staff know more than you think!).
  • Research if you can
  • Go with your gut-feel
  • Flip a coin!

Remember we are all human and we all make mistakes, that’s just life!

Importantly, if you do make a decision and it is not working then admit that you made a wrong decision and change it – fail fast, take accountability and do not let your ego get in the way.

Also, take into consideration that not all decisions will please everyone – fact! Some people will not like it and voice their opinion. If you wait to please everyone then you will never make a decision!

For those of you who suffer from a slight case of decidophobia, or a severe disorder, I hope these tips help!

Stephen Cushion – General Manager; Consulting

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