Making decisions is the bane of any leader’s existence. Large or small, making decisions is what takes up a huge amount of a leader’s energy.
Who takes the lead on a new project? Who cleans the kitchen this week? Do we buy a standing desk for the receptionist? Should we buy a new piece of equipment? Who gets to go to this year’s conference? The list goes on and on.
Any sensitive leader knows that each decision made impacts the team—some might think it is unfair, or the decision favors another team member, or it doesn’t get them the piece of equipment they think they need. Maybe the investment in the new equipment won’t pay off and you will lose money. Each decision is fraught with danger.
As the leader, having the responsibility to make decisions is why you get the big bucks.
Decision making requires judgment, and the ability to weigh the costs and benefits of that decision on competing priorities and various people. No small task.
Here are a few ways to make decision making a bit easier:
- Involve the team. Have the team help define the issue and also develop possible solutions. Eliminate those that are unacceptable for any reason, then gain consensus on the final solution. This works when the decision made impacts each individual in the group, such as determining who cleans the kitchen, or whether that piece of equipment would actually be used.
- Know exactly what you are trying to accomplish. There are millions of ways to accomplish your goal, but you have to know what the goal is. Articulate the goal, then brainstorm with the team lots of ways to get there. For example, if you are planning the annual team retreat and need to decide what to do and where to go, determine whether you need to focus more on team building, or strategic planning. Do you want to leave the retreat with a concrete plan for the coming year? Then perhaps planning a volunteer project for the retreat isn’t the best use of time. Instead, opt for the remote location with lots of white boards and not many distractions.
- Create systems. By creating routines and systems you can eliminate numerous decisions. Set up a plan for how often to replace equipment. Create a revolving schedule for who goes to the conference each year. Provide a certain amount each year per employee and let each person decide whether to spend it on that standing desk or on professional development, or their new laptop. Create a revolving schedule for planning team meetings. Do whatever you can do to automate decisions.
- Set up criteria about how to make decisions. Decide, for example, to only purchase a new piece of equipment if you can get a return on your investment in less than three years. Or, that you will only incur xx% of debt ratio, or that you only purchase supplies from local vendors. While criteria don’t make the decision for you, it makes the decision process easier.
By managing and simplifying the decisions you need to make on a daily basis you will free up mental and even physical energy to devote to other aspects of your business. You will be happier, and you will likely have a happier team