The Employers' Association

The Employers’ Association (TEA) is a not-for-profit employers’ association, formed in 1939, with offices in Grand Rapids serving the West Michigan employer community. We help more than 600 member companies maximize employee productivity and minimize employer liability through human resources and management advice, training, survey data, and consulting services.

TEA is in the business of helping people. This blog is intended to address human issues, concerns and the things that impact people - be they self-perpetuated or externally imposed. Feel free to respond to the thoughts presented here, for without each other, we are nothing!

Friday, September 27, 2013

THE SECRET TO MAKING GOOD DECISIONS

Many of the decisions we face everyday will be made based on “what feels right” rather than a well thought out “cause/effect” response to a defined set of facts – a definitive “cookbook” recipe of right and wrong. Good decision makers see a high percentage of their “judgment calls” result in successful outcomes – often because they listen to the facts available, make a decision ONLY AFTER considering not only what could go wrong but also what could go right, and anticipate alternative directions and responses prior to their becoming necessary. People who fail to thoroughly think through the potential results of their actions BEFORE initiating them often create more negative or “questionable” results than they do positive and should probably avoid roles where making sound decisions is an essential part of their daily routine.

Good judgment is the basis of all positive outcomes when making decisions and is truly an experience-based characteristic. In order to make more “good judgments” than bad we must actively seek a variety of experiences upon which we can draw to make good choices – we must learn from failure or we will fail to learn. Rarely can we assume a position of authority without having first experienced many different roles and responsibilities that allow us to win and to recover from our losses. Visualizing how one situation applies to another – dealing with the practical application of situations rather than just the theoretical facts – is a transition that many find difficult. (Probably the TWO exceptions to this rule are being in a personal relationship or being a parent. No experience or prior knowledge is typically available and there are no “proven methods guaranteed to work.” Reading a book will give you one person’s perspective. Reading many books will provide multiple perspectives. LIVING THROUGH the situation is the only way to gain your own perspective! Perhaps that is why so many people feel at a loss when sharing a relationship or raising children!)

Good choices are more often the result of many small decisions – seeing and reacting to how they impact
each other on the road to a major decision – than the infamous “ah-ha” moment creative and innovative trainers attempt to reveal. Great decisions are the result of careful analysis, thorough investigation, and a conscious, willful implementation of an action plan intended to initiate cautious forward movement. We never have all the answers – nor should we assume we have even asked all the right questions – but when we choose to move it MUST be with a sense of confidence that inspires others to follow.

We must continually expose others within our sphere of influence to new and different situations as we apply our knowledge – allowing them to grow by failing and feeling safe in doing so – if want them to develop their own breadth of experiences from which future decisions can be made independently from our own. Until another is developed and ready to carry on for us we cannot ascend the “ladder of success” as we will never make it past the first rung. When we make ourselves irreplaceably valuable at responding to and putting out fires we find our skills and talents cannot be “spared” to do anything else. The best “doer” in the world often fails as a leader because he or she fails to release what they did well when trying to assume new responsibilities – serving two masters rather than mastering one.

Making good decisions is part of a process rather than an event. As situations change, so should our willingness to shift direction. Once decisions are made we should move on to other challenges rather than dwelling on the action taken and agonizing on those not taken. Time does not stand still nor rest on its laurels - Do YOU?