The Top 5: Tips for Better Decision Making
Tips from the trenches to keep your copier career on track
Kick Your Decision Making Skills into High Gear!
All of us make hundreds of small decisions—and usually a few significant ones—each day. Improve the quality and efficiency of your decisions by following these five simple steps.
1. Focus your mental energy on big decisions, not small ones. Some decisions, like how to handle a delicate client situation, are worth spending time and thought on. Others, like which brand of chewing gum to buy, are not. “When possible, eliminate the need for decisions by establishing rules for yourself,” says science and lifestyle writer Catherine Price. “You will go to yoga every weekend. You will not have more than two glasses of wine You will buy whatever toilet paper is on sale.”
2. Identify your goal. David Welch, author of Decisions, Decisions: The Art of Effective Decision Making, explains that people “end up making bad decisions because they don’t really know what they want in the first place.” Take the time to truly examine your needs and motivations: Do you really want to change careers, or are you just tired of your current manager?
3. Don’t maximize when you can satisfice. “Satisficing,” coined by the economist Herbert Simon, describes an approach to decision making that prioritizes a faster, adequate solution over a slower, optimal solution. “Maximizing,” on the other hand, describes seeking an optimal solution at any cost. We see the differences in these decision making modes every day in recruiting:
Satisficers can make a decision once their criteria are met. That doesn’t mean they’ll settle for mediocrity – their criteria may be very high – but as soon as they find the qualities they want, they’re satisfied. Satisficer candidates will typically jump on a job offer that fits a certain salary range, type of work, commute distance, company culture, etc. Similarly, a satisficer employer has a list of required qualifications/qualities and are ready to make a hire when they meet a candidate who matches that list. The key to success for satisficers is understanding the point of diminishing returns on meeting their exact criteria – if their ideal commute length is 15-25 mins, they may still accept a commute of 35 mins but reject another that would take upwards of 45 minutes.
Maximizers want to make the optimal decision, beyond simply meeting criteria. They will not willingly settle for anything less than the best. Maximizer candidates may have lists like the satisficers (although they tend to be longer and more specific), but even when they get an offer from an employer that meets those requirements, they still hold out to see if there is a better option out there. Maximizing employers may have met a candidate who can do the job but won’t make a decision until they’ve extensively interviewed a dozen other candidates so they can chose the exact right one. While this strategy seems like it would get people the best option, in this hiring market, delaying a decision over-long can result in it being made for you. We’ve seen candidates and employers miss getting perfectly good positions or employees because their exhaustive search for perfection dragged on too long.
According to research by psychologist Barry Schwartz, people who satisfice are actually happier than people who maximize, and it goes without saying that they can make decisions more quickly.
4. Write it down. When making a big decisions, a good old-fashioned pros and cons list can really help put things in perspective.
5. Don’t rush it. While it doesn’t make sense to spend time mulling over small, insignificant decisions; it is advisable to take your time with decisions that matter. “When facing a complex decision,” says Price, “use your conscious brain to gather the information you need, and then take a break.” Doing so allows your unconscious mind to work on the decision while your conscious mind is occupied with other tasks. It also prevents you from making snap decisions while you’re feeling rushed or stressed, so you can come back to it later in a clearer, more relaxed state of mind.