Make up your mind, already! How indecision is hurting your team

header_Indecisivness

Crystal Spraggins, SPHR

No one who has ever worked with management (including HR pros) or been in management would say that it’s easy. On the contrary.

And if you’re a good manager, it’s really not easy.

Your team depends on you, looking to you for guidance, answers, and direction.

That’s why your indecision is negatively affecting your team’s productivity and possibly causing them to lose confidence in you, too.

What causes indecision?

Fear of making a mistake or looking dumb, stress, and too much information can all contribute to a moment of indecision, as can a general dissatisfaction with the available options.

But a leader must make decisions. Making decisions moves us from point A to point B. Until we make a decision, we (and our team members) stay stuck.

5 tips to get moving again

  1. Forget about perfection. Most likely, the perfect option doesn’t exist. Your goal should be to make the best decision you can with the information you have and to be known as that leader who makes many more good decisions than poor ones. Period.
  2. Focus on what you know. Sometimes we become indecisive when we try to process too many “unknowns.” You’d like to hire Candidate A, but she’s been unemployed for seven months and the salary you’re offering is less than what she’d been making before. Plus, you get the sense that she really thrives in the face of challenges, and you’re not sure your job will offer too many of those.

    Stop. 

    It’s wise to think a few steps ahead, but it’s not so wise to get tangled in knots trying to predict the future. Is this applicant technically competent? Does she present with the right traits? Do you think she’d make a good cultural fit? Did she say she wanted the job? Once in a while, take a situation at face value and go with what you
    do know, instead of spending time agonizing about what you don’t.
  3. Accept the possibility of failure. I’ve often counseled employees that there is very little we can do that can’t be undone. Sometimes we make mistakes. It’s only human. So you hired the wrong person. Try and make it work or let her go. Perhaps you chose the wrong health plan. There’s always next year. Wrong accounting software? Regrouping and cutting your losses may be better than throwing good money after bad to save face. The point is, some of your decisions won’t be the best, and generally, that’s okay and not a good reason to do nothing.
  4. Accept that action is needed. Your job is to do something. Not any old thing no matter how ill-advised, of course, but something. In other words, you’re required to act. If you’re not acting, you’re not doing your job.
  5. Realize that waiting for a problem to resolve itself only works once in a while. It’s true. Sometimes, problems will resolve themselves. A toxic employee will voluntarily resign. A vendor will withdraw a proposal. But you can’t count on that as a long-term leadership strategy. Seriously.

If you find yourself hesitating a little too often before making a decision, take heart. Good decision making is a skill, which means it can be learned and mastered. And because there are so many reasons to become a better decision maker—increased productivity, enhanced team relations, and improved confidence—it’s worth making the decision to improve this skill today.

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