Individuals make decisions every day with little regard to others, but in a business setting, those in charge cannot afford to take the decision making process lightly. Whether a business is small or quite large with hundreds of employees, managers faced with the role as the primary decision maker must possess the skills to handle decisions in a well-thought-out manner that is best for everyone involved, as well as the business.
According to Umass/Dartmouth, there are seven basic steps of the decision-making process. These steps can be simplified in a way that any manager can grasp and apply in the workplace.
The 7 Step Decision Making Process
1. Clearly identify the problem or query that requires a decision.
It is merely the first step in the decision-making process, but this one step could be the most important. In some business situations, the problem or proposal requiring a decision will be clear-cut and defined. For example, if a manager needs to decide whether it is logical to hire more people, this is a clear issue requiring a decision. However, in some situations, the problem or choice requiring a decision may not be so precise, such as if a manager knows there are issues with loss prevention, but is not sure where the problem lies. Whether the decision is clear or complicated, it is necessary for a manager to get a firm understanding of the decisions that need to be made before taking other steps in the decision making process.
2. Collect information regarding the decision to be made.
Decision making in management at any level is a far more scientific process than an ordinary decision by a regular person. Therefore, decisions require a great deal of research, both internal and external, and even a certain level of documentation and examination before a decision is actually made. The second step of collecting information regarding the decision may include things like:
– closely examining the root cause of problems and dilemmas at hand
-researching what employees will be affected by a decision
-investigating potential outcomes of specific decision possibilities
-using a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) analysis to examine facets of the decision
3. Create a list of possible solutions or alternatives.
It is most common for one problem to have multiple pathways to an eventual solution, albeit some eventual solutions to a problem could vary slightly according to the route taken. When a manager is decision making in business, it is crucial for them to create a list of possible solutions and alternatives. This gives a better idea of the possible options for the situation. It is best to list the most logical alternatives and solutions first and work down to the lesser desirable options at the bottom of the list.
4. Use evidence, research, and information to hypothesize outcomes of every decision possibility.
Once there is a list created of potential decision paths to take, the decision-making manager must give each of the items on the list due time and thorough thought. Envisioning the outcomes of every scenario can give great insight into which decision will work out for the best of the business and those involved. As this step is carried out, the most desirable and logical decisions will usually emerge as the most viable options.
5. Select the best decision.
After all of the examination, contemplating, and even taking notes, the fifth step in the decision making process in management is to actually make the final selection. In some cases, even after all of the pros and cons have been weighed, the final decision may be just what was expected at step three, but by going through the stepped process of decision making, the manager can feel more confident with their choice.
6. Put the final decision into action.
The decision is now made, and it is time to implement the changes or give new direction. This is where all of the planning culminates into a finalized outcome. The manager will usually use this time to inform employees and co-managers of the upcoming changes and give direction to set the new plan in motion.
7. Evaluate the ongoing outcome and results of the decision.
Business decision making is not always a final thing, but rather, an ongoing process. A once final decision can always change if it does not work out as planned. Therefore, it is important for a manager to consistently monitor progress once a decision has been made so they can adjust their plan if there is a need to do so. With the time and planning put into creating a list of decisions and alternatives, it should be rather easy to go back and implement a secondary plan if it is indeed necessary.
The professional decision-making process is a bit more complex but is easily broken down so it is easy for all managers to follow and achieve effective decision making. By proceeding through the process to make decisions with these seven simplified steps, there is a higher likelihood of making an informed decision with precise motive and understanding, while also honing decision-making skills.
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