Everything starts by making a decision

Everything starts by making a decision

Most people fear change, the unknown, and will seek safety in and with the familiar. Avoidance of serious decision making is common place, and often times decisions are deferred to others as a method to avoid responsibility for the decision, and the resulting outcome.

The lack of decision making and follow-through hold many people back in both personal and professional life. It is a “career killer” for anyone in management.

Good quality decision making starts small and is developed over time by frequent use. People do not become great decision makers overnight. With each decision comes increased confidence and comfort at being near or outside their comfort zone.

At the core, a decision is choice to engage, or discontinue, an action, or series of actions, in order to generate a desirable result. Simply put, a choice to do something, even if that something is to stop.

Two areas come to mind when thinking about successful decision making. The first is follow-through, and the second is making quality decisions. Follow-through, in many ways, can be more critical then quality decisions. An “OK” decision that is implemented produces some positive results. A great decision that is never acted on does not produce any positive results, but instead produces lower credibility and destroy trust.

Follow-through: Making a decision requires action.  If no action follows a decision, then nothing really has been decided. The only thing that has been achieved is the abdication of free will to someone or something else.

Failure to follow-through on a decision lowers credibility and motivation. People are judged on their ability to follow-through on a decision, and it can be a huge team motivator or moral killer based on the follow-through, not necessary the results of the actions. Follow-through demonstrates consistency and engagement.

One method to assist in creating the motivation, and the energy required to start the action phase of a decision, is to create a contract. When I have made a decision, that I was not extremely motivated to carry out, I would hand-write (never type) a contract with myself. I would then sign the contract, and leave it on my desk. I start each week by reading through my contracts, I tend to have a few, and this helps me in my weekly and monthly planning.

My contracts are short in length, but clearly state what I must do, or not do as the case may be, and why I need to do it. If the method of execution is critical to the decision, I will include it the contract. A good contract should include what must be done and why.

If a decision requires a longer series of actions, always include revaluation points. Decisions are not set in stone and should be evaluated throughout the action, or implementation, phases. New information and changing conditions require changes in positions all the time, and being flexible in decision making is critical to long term success.

It really does not matter what the decision is, it can be large (such as goals), intermediate, or minor. All decisions require actions and follow-through. Start small and follow-through with whatever is decided. This will build confidence and integrity.

Related Post: Making Quality Decisions Takes Effort

3 thoughts on “Everything starts by making a decision

  1. I agree, deciding to not make a decision at this time, is in fact a decision to defer until a later date. If the issue is never raised to see the light of day, then by default, a decision was made for status quo.

    Some decisions cannot be made because of a lack of understanding or information. Or frankly, the time is just not right. These should not be forgotten, but tabled for an appropriate time. A follow-up mechanism should be put into place for all deferred decisions.

    What is the effect on the team when decisions are deferred without good cause; it lowers credibility, respect, and trust.

    In my prior professional lives, I have seen decisions deferred more than acted on, and it has had a negative effect of staff.

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