by Michael Holland   

In the midst of the chaos comes yet more work.  You’re already way overloaded with 20-plus direct reports, and you still have to fill those two open manager positions.  You are working 13 hours a day just to keep the fires at bay by providing minimal direction and insight to all those direct reports.  Should you just promote that internal candidate who has far less management experience than the job and team requires?  At least you’d have boots on the ground to help you manage the everyday fires, and you’d be able to pull you head up a bit from the trees to see more of the forest.

We are constantly faced with decisions, some small and mundane, others far-reaching and complex.  The muckiness of decision-making can be caused by the environment, our unique personality, the political storms surrounding us, and the emotional baggage that we carry around from all our life decisions (both good and bad).  Dan and Chip Heath’s recent book, Decisive: How to Make Better Choices in Life and Work, offers up tremendous insight on how our decision-making is disrupted by our overconfidence, biases, and short term emotions.

Here are three tactics you can use to make better decisions.

  • Think AND not OR – When looking at a decision, most leaders see a decision between two outcomes: this or that, hire the internal candidate or don’t.  Widen your options by using AND instead, allowing yourself to see multiple tracks: a spectrum of possible combinations.
  • Start Ooching – Start with some small experiments to test decision paths out a bit. In the words of the Heath brothers, ooching is a combination of “scoot” and “inch”.  So try ooching forward to gather more data and to gain clarity on what the real decision actually is, or to test out a portion of your decision.  You should ooch before taking the full leap.  For issue of the internal manager candidate mentioned earlier, can the leader ooch the process by borrowing the manager for 10 hours a week from their current department, testing her out in the role?
  • 10-10-10 – Ask yourself, “How will I feel about this decision 10 days from now? 10 months from now?  10 years from now?”  This time framing process allows you to gain perspective and add distance so you can emotionally sort through the impact of the decision.  You should be able to gain clarity around the internal conflicts which may be impacting your decision process.

Practice some of these techniques with the decisions confronting you today and adjust your trend line of success.  You just may make better decisions.

Coaching Thoughts- For You and Your Peers 

  • When was the last time you faced a tough decision? What did you do to make up your mind one way or another? Take a moment to think about how the three tactics outlined here might have helped you in that situation?
  • Which of these three tactics for decision making jumps out at you most?  Why do you think this is?
  • How might you benefit from using all three of these suggestions, rather than just on?