One of the most important things we are all paid for is making good decisions. And yet, people often make bad or at least sub-optimal decisions.
Why does this happen?
Research reported in Harvard Business Review* suggests six key reasons that often lead to bad decision making. Watch out for these!
1. Decision Fatigue. The sheer volume of decisions we have to make these days can be staggering. And none of us has endless energy. To address this, make sure that you work on your most important decisions when you have the most energy – perhaps early in the day.
2. Steady State of Distraction. We are barraged by constant streams of information and “Breaking News” via the web, apps, and email. Take some time to unplug every day and get away from it; take a quiet walk.
3. Lack of Input. Be proactive in seeking input on decisions. In meetings, make sure to share information at least a day prior so people have time to think. If it is a large meeting, break into sub-groups to allow for more interaction. Make sure that introverts are heard.
4. Multi-Tasking. We are told that this drains energy and yet we persist in it. Task “switching” impairs the quality of our work and slows us down. Work hard to FOCUS on one thing at a time.
5. Emotions. Don’t make decisions when you are upset, angry, or sad about anything going on in your life. Take some time to recoup and calm down before you go through the decision-making process.
6. Analysis Paralysis. We often need to make decisions with incomplete information while there also seems to be an endless supply of data to review. Ask yourself what the most important information is that you need and proceed with as much of that as you have. If there truly is new, critical information that you will have soon – then wait for it. Otherwise, you need to make a choice based on what you know.
Keeping these decision traps in mind as we move throughout the day can help us make much better decisions. Teaching this to your team can spread this and help make you an organization of insightful decision-makers.
*Erwin, M. “6 Reasons We Make Bad Decisions, and What to Do About Them,” Harvard Business Review online, August 1, 2019.