By Muthoni Ndegwa
Every day, we get tasked with making decisions. From mundane and easy decisions such as what to have for lunch or what to wear, to complex ones involving the organization and employees.
If you look at most great leaders, a common trait in them is effective decision making; some of the decisions easy, but most of them tough.
Making decisions that benefit everyone can be one of the hardest tasks for any leader. Nonetheless, these choices need to be made, as often, the consequences of not making a decision can outweigh the decision’s outcomes.
Esther runs a financial consulting company. The company has been operating for six years and has employed 25 staff with an additional 5 working on a need basis.
For the past year, the company has registered losses due to the economic instability and competition in the region.
While Esther is confident the company can rise above the current challenges, she agrees the company would have to let go nearly half of the staff in order to keep operating. Esther is having a hard time making this decision.
“We’re a growing company. I selected each employee for the great qualities they had. I have formed a bond with each member of the team. Ultimately, I know I will have to make the decision; but for now, I’m pushing it back hoping the situation will change. I’ve been postponing the decision for 5 months. How do I get myself to go through with letting half of my staff go?” Asks Esther.
As your department or organization grows, you’ll be faced with difficult decisions. Here are a few tips on how to face tough decisions;
1.Analyze the different outcomes
While you may not know the exact result of your decision, you can project what the outcome will be. For instance, when talking with Esther, she explained that letting go half of her staff would avail the needed resources to market and run the company. If she retained everyone, the company would be strained on resources, which would affect the effective running of the business, and could eventually lead to it closing down.
Before making a hard decision, first weigh what the outcomes will be. This will help you arrive at the most rational decision.
2. Consult other leaders
In most cases, leaders are expected to have all the answers. In tough times, employees look up to you for solutions.
There’s no problem in not having all the answers. However, rarely will you face a unique situation. Most likely, you know someone who has faced your current challenge. Talk to other managers and leaders to gain their input and advice.
Always exhaust your resources to learn more about your situation, and ways to fix it.
3. Focus on the long-term picture
In Esther’s case, while she has looked at the long-term outcome, she’s also considering the immediate outcome. The immediate outcome is a reduced workforce. The long-term outcome, if she doesn’t downsize, is the company could close down. However, if she does downsize, she ensures half of the staff keeps their jobs, and the company continues to grow.
Sometimes, the immediate outcome may not be pleasing but the sacrifice is worth the bigger picture.
4. Reduce decision fatigue
Decision fatigue can best be described as the process through which you make so many decisions, that when it comes to the tough decisions, you’re already worn out.
The best way to beat decision fatigue is by delegating some of the decisions to other parties. Delegating duties to your team will help build their leadership skills. Moreover, the team will feel directly involved in the tasks and appreciate your believing in them.
5. Grow your leadership skills
There are essential skills that every leader should possess. These skills help you both professionally and personally. These skills include effective communication and presentation, emotional intelligence, decision making, problem-solving, time management, and so on.
Equipped with these leadership skills, you’ll be able to effectively run your department t and make the tough decisions ahead of you.
Decision making forms a great part of being a leader. While you may shy away from making some tough decisions, making these decisions will help you grow as a leader and help your organization thrive.
Muthoni Ndegwa is the Chief Operations Officer at Corporate Staffing Services.