“Good Decision-Making Skills” is one of the top soft skills you will find mentioned in resumes. But it is hard to establish the decision making skill of a candidate just by looking at their experience or achievements. It is a skill that reflects in their working pattern and can only be viewed when put to use.

We often get confused with the concepts – being a decision maker and being good at decision making. If you are at a post where you get to make the important decisions for the organization then you are the decision-maker. But being a decision-maker is based on the status that you have in an organization. Decision making, on the other hand, is a process that you follow to ensure better productivity no matter what your position is in an organization. Whether you’re a janitor or the CEO. A decision maker may or may not be good at decision making but a person who follows the process to make a good decision definitely has the ability to become a good decision maker.

“Most discussions of decision making assume that only senior executives make decisions or that only senior executives decisions matter. This is a dangerous mistake.”

– Peter Drucker

But why is this quality so important? How can it be achieved?

Companies may hire you judging by your skill and/or your past experiences but they keep you for your contribution to the organization. You can either be an asset or a liability for the company. Many always wonder why the manager gets all the credit when everyone knows it’s his subordinates are the ones who did the heavy lifting.

But your technical skills can only take you this far – Getting the work done. This is just one part of the process. The real challenge comes when there are tough decisions to be made. What is the project about? How to get it done? Who will do it? Who will manage the timelines? How will it be executed? What are the expected results? Whether it’s as a team or just as an individual, good decision-making skills can help you create an effective impact on all the tasks that you do.

Decision-making is not a skill that you learn, it is a process that you follow with discipline.

In the professional world, decision making includes the step by step execution of a few basic rules, namely –

1.) Understand The Task In hand

Understanding the given task is very important. After being told, if you still do not understand, ask again and again. Make sure you know what is the expected outcome of all the tasks assigned to you.

2.) Do You Have The Complete Information

Check if you have the basic facts and figures to carry out the task assigned to you. You do not want to start a particular task and realize halfway through that you never had the necessary information to work on.

3.) How Important Is The Task?

Know which of the given tasks are important. Make a priority list. Not the one that will take the most time, not the one that is close to the deadline. The one which would make the most difference whether its customer acquisition, company revenue, company margin or even just important enough for your department. That particular one would be the one you select and you start with. Rest can be taken care of once the most important one is complete.

The importance of the task can be measured if it satisfies the Pareto’s Principle of 80/20 Rule which states that for many events (or tasks), roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes. In other words, 80% of your results are generated from 20% of your efforts.

Consider the tasks which would cover 80% of the expectation or the profit first and then if time permits get the rest of the things done.

To understand the concept of 80/20, I would suggest you check out the following video which illustrates it perfectly –

4.) Know Your Timeline?

Every assigned task will come with its deadline. So the next important question is ‘Do you have enough time to get it done?’.

If you do not have sufficient time, your next course of action would be to raise your concern to the concerned authority. You cannot be expected to complete the work with an absurd timeline. Know that this is not a suggestion to not take up the work at all. But professionalism is best reflected when you respect your own time and efforts. Working overtime would hardly make you a good employee.

5.) Brainstorm Ideas And Build A Plan

“Good Teams Become Great Ones, When Members Trust Each Other Enough To Surrender The ‘Me’ For The ‘We.”

– Phil Jackson

If you are working in a team the best step when starting with any project is to work on ideas on how to get it done. Ideas from all the team members.

Brainstorming ideas does not just mean things about ideas and saying it out loud, it also means questioning every discussed idea and working on the pros and cons and finally coming up with the best reasonable plan possible and convincing the entire team to stay on the same page.

When you have the plan ready, it’s time to assign them within the team.

Photo by Dylan Gillis on Unsplash

6.) Proper Delegation

“Deciding what not to do is as important as deciding what to do.”

– Jessica Jackley, businesswoman

In an organization, Projects are assigned to a team and not just to an individual. In this case, you need to know all the members involved and the tasks assigned to each of them. Some professionals have the habit of taking it upon themselves to complete the whole project. But this would only make you weak as a team player. It would be a failure for you and your team.

Try scoring the high productive task for yourself but know that each and every task assigned is a part of the process and are interdependent. This would mean that even though you have a low productive task, your team are dependent on you to complete it so that they can move on the next step.

“Individual commitment to a group effort–that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work.”

– Vince Lombardi

7.) Acquire Professional Advice (If Needed)

It’s never too bad to ask for professional advice. Some people may think it will reflect as a sign of dependency but it is not. People learn from experience and if someone has more experience than you, they may have better knowledge about the tasks and how they can get done effectively and within stipulated time. You don’t have to do exactly as they say but a piece of expert advice may provide you with additional insight on the dos and don’ts.

8.) Set Deadlines For Each Step & Track Progress

Schedule clear timelines for every task assigned to you depending upon the deadline that you have received. If you cannot finish within the timeline mentioned, step back and re-evaluate your schedule until you match your timeline.

This is a very important step as this will help you track your progress along the way. It helps you to know that you are on schedule and will be able to complete the task assigned. If you have been working with projects for a long time, you must be aware that nothing ever goes as planned. So tracking your own progress will also help you and your entire team know where the issue lies, work on it or you can revise the plan accordingly to maintain the scheduled deadline.

Photo by Kevin Ku on Unsplash

9.) Documentation

As a professional, proper documentation one of the most important steps that you will have to follow. Not just while you are working as a team but throughout your career. Documentation not only helps in tracking the progress but also helps in keeping records of the plan so as to avoid any miscommunication or misinterpretations as you move forward with the tasks.

It doesn’t matter if it’s on paper, email and any particular company platform. What’s important is that it is documented and the progress is constantly updated as per your scheduled timeline.

10.) Get It Done

Last but not least, you have the task, you have planned the steps and now all that is left is for you to finally Get It Done.

Just knowing how to do ‘Get it done’ will give you momentary success in your professional life but it takes a continuous execution of good decision during the process that will ensure life long progress.

“High achievers spot rich opportunities swiftly, make big decisions quickly and move into action immediately. Follow these principles and you can make your dreams come true.”

– Robert H. Schuller