These Are Uncertain Times

Organizations are challenged by rapid changes impacting their budget, workforce, and profits. Leaders are constantly juggling ever-changing COVID-19 related guidelines and shifting priorities with the challenge of managing remote teams. Meanwhile, employees continue to struggle with continued challenges and distractions resulting from working from home and being physically separated from their co-workers. 

The need for strong, decisive, and confident leadership is greater than ever. 

This new reality has made some leaders more cautious when it comes to making key decisions. They feel the need to continuously seek more and more information before they make a decision. 

While research and information-gathering are essential in making good decisions, it can lead to delayed decisions and missed opportunities. Psychologist Barry Schwartz calls this the “Paradox of Choice”. Schwartz discovered that although greater choice can allow us to obtain better results, it can also lead to greater anxiety, indecision, and even decision paralysis.

Malcolm Gladwell talks about the issue of ‘Paralysis by Analysis,’ in his book, ‘Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking’. Gladwell describes why having too much information can lead to making bad judgments or decisions. He presents a concept to remedy the issue called ‘thin-slicing’, which is the ability to use limited information from a very narrow period of experience to reach a conclusion. He believes that spontaneous decisions can be as good or better than those that are meticulously researched and thought out.

Here’s why. 

Mulling over a decision may not only be costly for an organization, but it can affect leaders’ work performance. Making decisions can be stressful and can be draining. It can consume the decision-maker’s mental space, kill creativity, and lower their abilities on mentally-demanding tasks. From employees’ perspectives, witnessing a leader’s indecisiveness can signal a lack of leadership. In a workplace that is more virtual than ever, strong leadership is a must.

But not all decisions are held-off due to the desire for more information. Oftentimes leaders avoid decision-making because they desire agreement from their team. In ‘normal’ times, getting the multiple stakeholders to agree on a decision can be difficult. With remote workforce and management teams, getting agreement can be even more time-consuming. I’ve written about the pitfalls of delayed decision making while waiting for 100% agreement in a previous article, How To Avoid The Consensus Trap. This was also the topic of a recent webinar I co-hosted called “Getting Consensus Without 100% Agreement“.  

Tips To Make The Best Decision With The Information You Have:

  1. Have a clear vision of the company’s goals and objectives to make it easier to identify the ‘best’ decision

  2. Increase the potential options for “either/or” decisions or reduce the number of options when there are many 

  3. Remove emotions and be objective

  4. Set (and stick to) a deadline for when the decision has to be made to prevent overthinking and overanalyzing

  5. Understand the cost(s)of not making a decision

The Bottom Line – Make The Best Decision At The Right Time With The Information You Have.

It seems leaders have more decisions to make in these times – and with remote workforces – decisions are taking longer to make. Making decisions with limited information now can often get greater results than making a decision with more information later

I’ve been helping leaders navigate their new normal, align remote teams and improve their communications throughout their organization.

Let’s turn conversations into outcomes.

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