The Right Way To Make Tough Decisions

What to wear to work? That’s easy. How to tackle a major work issue? Less so. But these tips that can make tough decisions that much easier.

The Right Way To Make Tough Decisions
[Photo: Flickr user Caleb Roenigk]

How many decisions do you make in a day? Probably thousands, from which socks to wear to which jobs to tackle first at work.


We make so many of these minor decisions easily, but when we’re confronted with a major choice that could have a huge impact on our lives or our businesses, we often lack the level of ease and clarity we feel when choosing our lunch each day.

Here are a few tips that can make tough decisions that much easier to make.

1. Keep Your Big Picture In Focus

Even the smallest decisions can sometimes have bigger implications for the future of your company than you think. There’s no room for sloppiness, whether you’re hiring your second-in-command or choosing which snacks to provide your staff in the office kitchen.

While it may seem counterintuitive in the name of productivity to micromanage small-scale judgment calls, there’s no room for sloppiness anywhere in your business. Before you can streamline the decision-making process, you should first understand and value each decision that confronts you and weigh your conclusions with care. Then stick with them.

2. Standardize Your Measures Of Success

What makes a decision the right one? Is it the one that costs the least money? The one with the most long-term efficiency? The easiest one to implement? There’s no wrong answer to this question except having no answer.

Taking the time to figure out what qualifies as a good decision for you will streamline your thinking process and help you more easily identify the right choice at each turn.


3. Automate Decision-making

This could be as simple as establishing guidelines you share with your staff or as complicated as establishing a series of checks and balances within the framework of your company (I’m a big fan of management software that can literally automate your decisions, when possible).

If you find yourself being asked to make the same judgment calls on a regular basis, establish an “if this, then that” model your employees can easily follow. Then you’ll only have to personally confront the anomalies, leaving the more predictable, repetitive decisions to be made lower on the ladder.

4. Clone Yourself

You can’t literally clone yourself, but the way to make this fantasy a reality is to delegate, and to do so with care.

There are two important factors to delegating decision-making powers within your workplace: sharing responsibility with employees you trust and integrating the guiding principles you established above their DNA.

As an entrepreneurial leader, you should understand your company’s main goals and ideals, and you should live them in such a way that your employees see how they impact every decision.

If you can teach your team members to weigh decisions that affect the company as you would, you’re as close as you can get to tackling every day-to-day problem yourself—freeing you up for higher-level decision-making.


About the author

Barry S. Saltzman is CEO of Saltzman Enterprise Group and Partner at Culture Measures, a business focused on turning the art of culture into a science


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