Don’t Overthink It: Tips for Efficient Decision Making


Moving from Muck to Clarity

When you think about the traits of a good leader, waffling and wavering probably don’t come to mind. Yet, decisiveness might be more fitting. Employees want a leader who can make decisions quickly and confidently. They also want a leader who is trustworthy and will make decisions that will benefit everyone. At Interstates, one of our ’21 Leader Characteristics’ is ‘moving from muck to clarity’. Basically, this means we want our people empowered to get out of the muck and to make decisions quickly. Ultimately, delaying a decision is making no decision at all. No decision is often worse than a less than perfect decision.

Making Decisions Efficiently, Not Quickly

So, what can you do to make better decisions and still be efficient? First, set a framework for the decision. Clearly articulate your goal or vision. Reaching clarity on where you want to land will help guide the decision you make. Next, decide who will be the final decision maker. Will it be you or a group of people? Additionally, set a deadline for when you will make the decision. This removes the temptation to defer or draw out the decision-making process and wasting valuable time and energy.

Next, do your research. Being decisive doesn’t mean being hasty. Collect data from your past experiences. Consult colleagues and draw on their experiences. Don’t agonize over making the decision, but stay focused on gathering your research. A general rule of thumb is that the bigger the decision, the more research you should do. Reserve your conclusions until you’ve finished your research and have enough – not all – facts.

Balancing Emotion and Reason

Throughout the decision-making process, balance your emotions with reason. Your heart may say one thing and your head another – stick to the facts. Good leaders get beyond the emotions and make decisions that positively impact themselves, their employees, and their customers. When the deadline for the decision draws near, review the facts and options at hand. Don’t let the pursuit of a perfect solution delay you. There may never be a perfect solution, but there are likely good options available to you. Select the best option and keep moving forward.

With practice and using a process like the one described above, you’ll become a more confident leader, making better decisions more efficiently. You’ll also save time and energy, and be in a better state of mind, trusting yourself to make great decisions.

What other tips do you have for making good decisions efficiently?

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Keep leading the Interstates way!

Doug Post
President, Interstates Engineering