Decision Making Myths and Tips

In both work and life in general, there is often no “right” decision. We’re often faced with an abundance of options, which doesn’t make the act of decision making any easier. Whether you’re someone who experiences decision paralysis, someone who makes rash decisions you come to regret, or fall anywhere in between, you will likely benefit from simplifying decision making with a balanced combination of intuition and critical thinking.

Types of Decision Making

Decisions should, ideally, come from a clear understanding of your needs, values and goals. When you’re in a familiar situation, do you find your decisions are fast and automatic? This is likely based on your established experience with what works and what doesn’t. However, when you encounter a new situation, you may find you need more time to weigh potential benefits and risks. Knowing various approaches to decision making can help you determine what’s best for your unique circumstances.

Informed Decision Making

The ability to think critically is key to making good decisions free from common errors or bias. Informed decision making means not just listening to your intuition or “going with your gut,” but rather figuring out what knowledge you lack and obtaining it. When you look at all possible sources of information with an open mind, you can make an informed decision based on both facts and intuition.

Satisficing vs. Maximizing Decision Making

A satisficing approach to making decisions involves settling for a “good enough” outcome, even if it’s flawed. Alternatively, a maximizing approach waits for conditions to be as perfect as possible to minimize potential risks. People who make good decisions know when it’s important to act immediately, and when there’s time to wait and gather more facts before making a choice.

Decision-Making Styles

If you find you’re feeling stuck when faced with the need to make a decision, consider the decision-making styles below. Examine these factors and think about how they relate to your potential decision.

StyleBehaviorWhen to useDo not use when
AuthoritativeYou make a decision and announce it to relevant parties.Time is short.

As decision maker, you have all the knowledge needed.
You need buy-in from others.
Consultative (group or individual)You gather input from individuals or a group, and then decide.As decision maker, you do not have all the knowledge or insight needed.

The issue is important to a group/team.
Others really don’t have a say in the decision (as decision maker, you may have privileged information).
MajorityYou reach a decision along with a group; everyone understands the decision, and the majority of people are willing to implement.It is a relatively trivial matter or low-stakes decision.The decision affects everyone in a meaningful way.
ConsensusYou reach a decision along with a group; everyone understands the decision, and everyone is willing to implement.The decision will impact everyone, and all need to fully buy in.

There is potential value in the team discussing or working together on the decision.
Time is short.
DelegateYou delegate the decision to an individual or a team, with constraints you have set.The delegate has all the necessary skills, or there is a coach or mentor available to assist.It is a high-risk or high-profile decision.

Decision Making Myths

Making decisions can be stressful, and it’s easy to fall into falsehoods about decision making to avoid putting in the sometimes difficult effort to make the best choice. Consider some common myths related to decision making and think of ways to avoid these traps.

Myth #1: I just need to solve this problem at this moment; I don’t have time to dedicate to this decision.

Putting off a decision is a decision in and of itself. However, intentionally slowing down a bit to be clear about what you’re solving will speed up your efficacy. Put in the quality time now to avoid having to revisit a decision later that you may come to regret. Our problems sit in a context. If your focus is too narrow, or your process is too rushed, you may solve the wrong problem, or only partially solve the problem.

Myth #2: This is my decision alone; I don’t need to involve others.

Most important decisions involve other stakeholders. Avoiding this bigger picture of who else is affected by a decision can, at best, only partially solve the problem, and may unintentionally exacerbate it.  Be mindful that, when many people are involved in making a decision, the process can become stalled by groupthink, when well-intentioned individuals make poor or irrational choices out of a desire to conform or avoid dissent. Ensure any involved individuals feel safe and confident expressing doubts and concerns.

Myth #3: Decision making is a linear process.

Good decision making is circular, requiring a feedback loop as information is gathered and analyzed over time. Don’t be surprised if you need to go back to find additional information or adjust your decisions.

When faced with difficult decisions, take the time to ensure your choices are based on what’s actually happening and not simply reflective of learned patterns of behavior that may no longer be useful. Carefully weigh any potential issues, commit to a decision, and then follow through. Interested in further advancing your decision-making skills and knowledge? Check out the elevateU resources below to get started.

ELEVATEU RESOURCES

Collected Resources: Decision Making and Problem Solving (Courses, Short Videos, Audiobooks, eBooks)

Choosing and Using the Best Solution (25-minute course)

Defining Alternative Solutions to a Problem (24-minute course)

Leading Through Problem Solving and Decision Making (48-minute course)

Sources

Psychology Today. Decision-Making. Retrieved May 9, 2022, from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/basics/decision-making.

Skillsoft Ireland Limited. Choosing and Using the Best Solution. Retrieved May 9, 2022, from https://elevateu.skillport.com/skillportfe/main.action?path=summary/COURSES/apd_15_a03_bs_enus.

Strauss Einhorn, Cheryl, 2021, April 20. 11 Myths About Decision-Making. Harvard Business Review blog post. Retrieved April 28, 2022, from https://hbr.org/2021/04/11-myths-about-decision-making.

OPD Course Spotlight — Identify & Maximize Your Strengths

“What will happen when we think about what is right with people rather than fixating on what is wrong with them?” ― Donald O. Clifton

How do you build better relationships at work? Find the right role to fit your talents? Have powerful, constructive conversations? Living your best life begins when you tap into your unique talents. Learn to Identify & Maximize Your Strengths in an upcoming workshop with HR Organization and Professional Development.

Identify & Maximize Your Strengths is currently open for registration in the EBS Portal for Wednesday, September 21, or Tuesday, December 13, 2022, from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m.

Before this workshop, you will complete Gallup’s CliftonStrengths online assessment to determine your natural patterns of thinking, feeling and behaving. Then, attend the 4-hour Zoom session to receive your customized assessment results and participate in a series of structured discussions and reflection exercises to develop a deeper understanding of yourself and increased appreciation for others.

“Identify and Maximize Your Strengths is an introduction to the CliftonStrengths framework in which participants will take the assessment and review their results to explore what they naturally do best, identify the impacts of those talents on their work and relationships, and determine how to further develop these areas to be most successful,” explains course co-facilitator, David Robinson, Learning and Development Professional for MSU Infrastructure Planning and Facilities.

Lean Into Your Strengths

Often, when we think about learning and development, we’re working on our “weaknesses” — areas that could use improvement. One unique aspect of this workshop is its focus on your existing strengths. Discovering your strengths is just the beginning. Applying and investing in them sparks real change and growth.

Danielle Hook, course co-facilitator and Learning and Development Manager for MSU HR Organization and Professional Development, shares, “Identify and Maximize Your Strengths guides participants from the initial understanding of their results through the identification and implementation of strengths-based actions. It is through these actionable steps that we see the deeply meaningful impact of a strengths-based approach to the development of individuals and teams. Using the CliftonStrengths framework, we celebrate the unique talents and contributions of individuals as well as the diversity within our teams.”

Check out a preview of what you can expect from the CliftonStrengths assessment and Identify & Maximize Your Strengths:

Ready to Sign Up?

Register for an upcoming Identify & Maximize Your Strengths session in the EBS Portal by selecting the Courses for Employees at MSU tile under My Career and Training. Contact OPD at prodev@hr.msu.edu with questions about this workshop or inquiries regarding hosting this program for a group.

New Year, New Professional Development Courses!

Do you have any goals for 2020? Chances are if you do, they are likely centered around self-improvement. One way to enhance your work experience and get the most out of this year professionally is to take professional development courses! Find courses through Organization and Professional Development (OPD) to help you reach your personal and professional development goals.

Upcoming Courses:

Creating and Sustaining a Positive Workplace – Wednesday, February 5

Turnover, stress-related illness, and disengagement are signs of a problematic workplace and according to the most recent Gallup polls, nearly 70% of employees are unhappy or disengaged at work. This course provides humorous insight into the seven habits of negativity, including tips to stop gossip, techniques for getting along with others, and strategies to reap the many benefits of a positive and engaged workforce.

From Distracted to Productive – Wednesday, February 5

Email. Interruptions. Project transitions. Office clutter. Social and other media. Text messages. Even family and friends. These seven “distractors” sometimes make it almost impossible to get anything done. But with some forethought and effective strategies, as well as some personal discipline, it is more than possible to find your focus once again, even in a hyper-distracted world. Learn “game plan” ideas for getting and keeping your distractors under control and finding critical “focused productivity” time each day, leading to improved performance as well as clarity of mind and purpose.

Managing Meetings – Wednesday, February 12

With company resources tighter than ever, and staff and management busier than ever, frivolous meetings are simply not an option. Yet they continue to occur more often than ever. And too many unproductive, wasteful meetings create a major drag on staff morale and motivation, thus affecting productivity, turnover, and the corporate “bottom line”. If you are the organizer or leader of meetings, you simply cannot afford to look unprofessional when you are “on stage” in a competitive or political environment. Use this program to better plan, lead, and follow through on your meetings and enhance team productivity, coordination, and cohesion.

Crucial Conversations – Wednesday, February 12 and Thursday, February 13

By learning how to speak and be heard (and encouraging others to do the same), you’ll begin to surface the best ideas, make the highest-quality decisions, and then act on your decisions with unity and commitment. Learn step by step tools for promoting an open, honest dialogue around high-stakes, emotional, or risky topics—at all levels of your organization.

Emotional Intelligence in Leadership – Wednesday, February 19

A strong leader ignites motivation and unleashes productivity creating an environment in which individuals want to “follow.” A person with high emotional intelligence has mastered self-management and interpersonal dynamics. Combine the two and the result is an emotionally intelligent leader!

Honing Your Emotional Intelligence – Wednesday, February 19

Isn’t it interesting how some people have a seemingly natural talent for handling themselves and/or others with ease? It is an amazing feat considering our high stress, multi-tasking, spread-too-thin world today. Most likely, these individuals have mastered the principles found within Emotional Intelligence. The essence of Emotional Intelligence is our ability to identify and manage our own emotions and our ability to identify emotions in others and manage interpersonal relationships.

Crucial Accountability – Wednesday, February 19 and Thursday, February 20

This two-day course teaches a step-by-step process for enhancing accountability, improving performance and ensuring execution. A combination of role-playing and interactive scenarios allows participants to practice how to talk about violated expectations in a way that solves problems, improves relationships and improves team and organizational effectiveness.

You can find all the current OPD courses on the HR website. Sign-up through the EBS Portal. Questions? Contact HR Solutions Center at SolutionsCenter@hr.msu.edu or 517-353-4434.