5 Decision Making Strategies for New Managers

Almost a third of employees feel managers lack decision making skills. Making decisions have broad impact and everyone on your team is looking to you, the manager, to take care of the important decisions that impact their work.

When staff perceive the manager’s leadership, is weak or ineffective, they may be less receptive to decisions. We will explore 5 strategies for decision making. Read on and learn top tips to strengthen your confidence in decision making.

1. Define Clear and Purposeful Goals

Leaders face many challenges as part of the day-to-day operations. Making good decisions is part of those challenges. Overcoming barriers to great decisions begins with well-defined goals. Goal-setting is a set of critical skills you wasn’t to master as a manager. In this post I want to mention a few strategies that work well.

It makes sense that having clear and purposeful goals will prevent confusion on projects. Without clear goals work does not flow and milestones become bottlenecks; without clarity, teams lose productivity and motivation. 

Here are a few goal setting strategies that work well:  

  • 1-3-5 style: one clear goal with three priorities and five strategies
  • Reverse planning: work backward from a deadline, setting points for timeline tasks
  • SMART: specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-based

Each of these goal-setting types works for different types of goals and situations. Some work better for long-term objectives, others for short-term objectives. Exploring different goal-setting techniques helps with decision making in organizations. (We cover all of these goal-setting techniques in the Work Smart Club.)

2. Get the Right People Involved

While the buck stops with the manager because you have the responsibility for the outcome, in order to be success, you need to have the right people helping you fulfill your mission.

When you have naysayers or people who cannot see the vision, you end up spinning your wheels, spending precious time and energy trying to convince people, this is the right path. This clouds your judgment and can cause indecision.   

You want to have someone play devil’s advocate and someone help you stay focused while having positive people evaluate the alternatives. 

3. Be Willing to Make Any Decision

Many managers and even experienced leaders fail to make decisions. The reason given is, “things will work out.” And this is a myth, things do not magically work out unless there is a plan. Making decisions is something you will do a lot of in the role of manager. Be ready for it! Evaluate your decisions to date, and take note, if you struggle with analysis paralysis, procrastination, indecision, lack of confidence, impulsivity, and anything else that gets in the way of good, strong decisions.
Self-awareness will help you develop the skills you need to be more comfortable making decisions.
Confident leaders do not think about “being wrong,” when they make decisions, they understand this is a possibility and do their best to evaluate carefully. We all have made decisions that could be made better, once they are analyzed from the back end. Learning from these experiences is what counts. Without confidence, many managers do not learn, instead they are embarrassed and may shut down. (Perfectionism comes to mind here and has stifled many aspiring leaders. Take our quiz) This brings us to an important and often ignored aspect of good decision making.

4. Check your Biases

Good decisions happen when your mind is clear and free of bias. Analytic and critical thinking skills are important enabling you to break down the components of the issue you are trying to solve and figure out the risk/ reward ratio.

What can happen is people allow an “optimism bias” to cloud their judgment. Being optimistic is an important characteristic of leaders, but an optimistic bias is when you do not see potential risks or challenges and move ahead without any consideration of what could happen. (Want to learn more about your bias? Check out my book, The Work Smart Principle.) 

5. Set a Deadline

Change is happening a breakneck speed. And with it comes the need to make decisions quickly, sometimes without all the information you need. The real problem with such accelerated change is that it burns out leaders. And this can stall decisions because of overload. Psychologists call it “decision fatigue;” this is when the cognitive resources available for decisions gets used up. According to researchers, we have a finite amount of this “juice” and it is the same thinking power used for will power. It is possible you can wear out before you make that important decision. Not all decisions are created equal. This is why some executives, wear the same colors, eat the same food everyday or drive the same way to work; they are reducing their decisions. A rule of thumb is to make your important decisions early in the day, and to have a deadline, by which, the decision is made. This is also helpful to those whoa re relying on your answer.
A rule of thumb is to make your important decisions early in the day, and to have a deadline, by which, the decision is made.

Is it Time to Work Smart and Think Differently?

Knowing the demands placed on leaders and managers, we developed a tremendous resource center called Work Smart Club. In it we have tools to build resilience, manage stress, strengthen leadership, and improve decision making, all available as you need it, 24/7. 

Working smarter and thinking differently begins as leaders recognize their time and energy are resources that cannot be replaced. They need to be at their best to keep the performance engine operating. Defining goals, processes, when at their best builds a culture of excellence. Instead of burned-out, overworked managers and staff, you will see a team of hardworking, collaborative communicators.

If you’re ready to start thinking differently about your decision-making strategies, work with us. Our experience with strategy coaching helps your business move ahead. You’ll manage teams better than before with Work Smart Consulting!

Schedule a strategy session today to work with us. We’ll discuss the best tools and resources to elevate your decision-making processes.

We also have an online membership, the Work Smart Club, with online premium resources, courses and on-the-go training you can consume in under fifteen minutes.

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5 Decision Making Strategies for New Managers

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Dr. Cynthia Howard

Dr. Cynthia Howard has worked with thousands of leaders, professionals and business owners and recognized the unique challenges leaders have in managing, inspiring, and engaging their teams while maintaining their boundaries, passion and reason they chose to lead.

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