Do you know?
Every day we make up to 35,000 decisions. That’s 175,000 in a typical working week.
Most of these decisions are trivial: what you put in tomorrow’s sandwich is unlikely to alter the shape of the future.
But not all decisions are so simple or so small: how to negotiate with a client or partner; whether to take or leave a contract; whether to hire, or fire someone.
Every single one of these can have a profound effect on your future and the future of your business.
Given what can be at stake, it’s perhaps unsurprising that we put so much effort into deciding if a decision was right or wrong.
However, identifying what should have been done can be less useful than understanding why that decision was made in the first place.
An awareness of how you, or your employees make decisions is a vital step to ensuring that they are good ones.
Through our research working with decision makers, we at BeTalent have identified 10 factors that affect the way we make decisions. Our Decision Styles questionnaire is an easy way for you to understand the way you, or potential employees make decisions.
Below are the 10 factors to consider if you want to understand how you and those you work with make decisions.
The first factor to be aware of is how open the decision maker is to different perspectives. How capable are they of changing their mind?
They may be extremely single minded, focussed on choosing the simplest option with the highest probability of success, and unlikely to change their mind easily.
On the other hand they could be open minded, extremely open to other perspectives on a problem. Decisions can be easy for such people, since they don’t need everything under their control.
How much do they consider and plan their actions?
Their every action could be planned with meticulous detail. This kind of person dislikes risk and while this has its benefits, they are less able to make quick decisions.
Which is where the spontaneous decision maker comes in: they identify solutions using instinct. Such individuals are more willing to take chances, believing that potential rewards can justify the risk.
Do they take responsibility for decisions, or try and minimise the risk? Are they paralysed without all the facts, or are they willing to choose regardless?
The bold individual does all of this instinctively. Their decisions are their own, and they are willing to take risks.
On the other side of the scale, a cautious individual doesn’t like taking chances. They are more likely to share the ownership and responsibility of a decision to reduce the impact of failure.
Does the decision maker analyse all the available information before they make a decision?
The decision maker could be intuitive. Such people trust their own instincts and can make decisions quickly.
Objective decision makers, on the other hand, weigh up all the pros and the cons before they make their decision. Their decisions tend to be objective and impartial, but as a consequence are slower than those made by more intuitive people
How much are you in control of your life? Are you buffeted by the world or do you create your own luck? This factor measures how optimistic an individual is, and whether they have an “internal locus of control”.
Internal decision makers believe that success is simply a matter of making the most of everything. They focus on the positives, and control the elements to maximise the good in their futures. As a result, they tend to expect positive outcomes.
Those with an external focus of control are less positive. They are more likely to be self-critical, and are more pessimistic in outlook. Unlike the internal decision makers they believe that luck plays a large role in success.
This measures how ready an individual is ready to make quick decisions, and how much they enjoy working at a fast pace.
At the low end of the scale we have a measured decision maker. They are cautious and take their time to decide. For them, the best decision is one that has been well thought through.
At the other end there is the rapid decision maker. Their decisions are quick, practical, but may also be slightly rash. They like working quickly, and believe the best decision is a quick one.
Do they seek advice when they’re making a decision? To what extent do they consider the opinions of others?
An inclusive decision maker doesn’t like to decide alone. They are consensus-builders, and are more confident when others confirm decisions.
Some are more independent in their decision-making. They are supremely self-sufficient and do not feel the need to consult with colleagues.
How much do they contemplate a decision? Do they rush to conclusions or take their time?
They could be considered, asking questions to fully understand the problem. Such decisions are well thought through, but take time to arrive.
Equally, solutions could be apparent to them. Rather than dwelling overlong they would make decisions quickly, without the over-analysis that can lead to paralysing indecision.
Do they believe in themselves and their abilities? Can they trust themselves to follow through on decisions independently?
Hesitant individuals have little or no fixed ideas. The first sign of difficulty can lead them to question a decision. They tend to lack self-belief, and look to others for assurance.
The self-assured fiercely support a decision once it has been made. This self-belief is an asset, but it can make them unyielding, even in the face of new information.
Do they view risk as an opportunity or a liability? Do they thrive or wither in the face of uncertainty?
For the risk-averse among us, a risky situation is an uncomfortable one. They associate risk with the potential for loss, and consequently seek to minimise it.
Risk-seeking individuals are stimulated by risks. For them, risks are an essential part of being successful. They are more likely to seek out calculated risks to maximise their rewards.
A balancing act
In practice, people tend to fall somewhere between these extreme poles, but we are all categorised by them to some degree.
For those who want to improve either their own or their whole organisation’s decision-making, it is a case of finding the right balance.
A group that has a wide variety of decision-making types in its make-up is more likely to have disagreements than one with a small variety.
However, the more varied group has a tendency to make better decisions.
Some decisions are best made using a thoughtful and considered approach, while others need a decisive flair.
The ancient Greeks had a saying, “Know thyself,” and it is as true today as two thousand years ago.
If you understand the way you make decisions, you’ll have a far greater ability to deploy the right style for the right situation.
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