For as long as I can remember, I’ve been willing to make a decision. The decisions I make are not life or death decisions. I guess this probably makes it easier for me. However, I would say that few people are truly in a position where there decision is going to make a difference between life or death. Yet, I continue to be surprised by people drag out decisions, even the ones that are seemingly insignificant.
Last week I was talking to an independent sales rep for a personal and professional retainer-based service. This service is applicable to many people and is very reasonably priced for individuals, families or small businesses. It also requires no contract, believing that the value of the service will become evident and you will continue on a month to month basis. The sales rep commented about how difficult a decision this was for people.
In another conversation yesterday, I was talking to someone who oversees a team of consultants and project managers. This team is managing a very large number of customers and projects, but often the senior manager has to step in to an escalation situation. For the many of these, he’s is simply reiterating the delivery message around when the work will be started and completed. It became evident in the conversation that the project managers were very hesitant to communicate bad news, or make decisions on prioritizations.
In my customer facing roles, this was never an issue. I understood enough about the business to make a decision, and communicate that decision to both customers and management. I often presented the decision I was going to make, with all the applicable ramifications to management and confirmed their support. I could then effectively manage the communication to the customer. If a customer pushed back on the message, I was able to re-evaluate and re-engage the internal resources to see if any adjustments could be made. At this point, it was helpful to have a senior manager along to show support for the decisions.
The inability to make a decision and move forward is something I see in my teenage daughters as well. For them I suspect it has more to do with confidence than anything else. It is definitely something we are working to take steps to overcome. We talk about decisions (good and bad) and propose other solutions that would have been better. We encourage them to write stories and make little decisions that impact their lives.
When you get presented with that next decision, take a stand. If you can articulate your reasoning when you need to, chances are it will turn out fine. If it turns out that your decision was the best one, then use that knowledge the next time you make a decision. You will only be able to make better decisions by making them. In the broader scheme of things, that one decision will not be significant.