Beyond Gut Instincts: How Managers Make Tough Decisions Every Day!
February 24, 2023
Every manager spends the day making a number of decisions. These decisions can impact not only their personal and professional lives but also their teams’ trajectories. Yet, not every decision is the same! While some call for speed, others invite thought. Nonetheless, all are critical to determining success for a team. In this week’s edition of The Top newsletter, let’s look at the various decisions that managers take to navigate day after day.
Let’s start our day with Jake, a product lead at a SaaS startup. The morning arrives with a pertinent question – should their team diversify toward a new product? So, to tackle this problem, Jake begins by looking at the market. Then, after thoroughly understanding their environment, Jake is aware of the costs involved in launching and developing a new product. Next, they used data and quantitative analysis to assess the risks and benefits of the investment and weighed it against other investment opportunities or team priorities.
Ultimately, they concluded that diversifying would be the right step for their team. This analytical approach helped Jake make an informed decision based on data and analysis rather than gut instincts or emotions. In managerial parlance, this is known as analytical decision-making. You can read more about it here.
While this is great as it involves analysis of facts and figures, it is not the only way to decide. Jake’s teammate Jessie addressed this question quite differently. She invested in some thinking to determine whether the new product line aligns with the team’s overall vision and goals. As her team values sustainability significantly, she looked specifically at those metrics in closer detail. In this process, the team asked themselves several questions, such as “would it contribute to the team’s overall sustainability goals?”
By engaging in values-based #decisionmaking, Jessie ensured that the analytical decision to invest in a new product line aligns with the team’s broader mission and goals and will contribute to its long-term success and sustainability. Values-based decision-making processes best consider the core values that pivot a team. Find out more about values-based decision-making for managers here.
Jake and Jessie invited some team members to comment as the matter progressed. One team member suggested that moving ahead with the product would be a good decision, as it puts them in a better position in the long term.
As the industry is shifting to adopt modern tech, it is in the team’s best interest to move along too. However, the product would need some changes in its design, as the team has a greater commitment to sustainability, and the present version creates a substantial amount of waste. In addition, they questioned whether the new product line was consistent with the team’s brand identity and whether it would enhance or dilute the brand’s value.
By engaging in #conceptual decision-making, the team assessed the potential risks and benefits of the new product line beyond just its financial impact by using critical thinking. They considered the decision’s broader implications on the team’s identity, culture, and reputation and made a decision consistent with its values and goals.
This brainstorming session provided Jake with some much-needed insights into the product. Before moving forward with the plan, a few changes were decided. Such a style of decision-making that invites multiple perspectives to create a bigger picture extending into the future is called the conceptual decision-making style. You can read more about it here.
Finally, with expert opinions included and multiple aspects covered, our manager, Jake, decided to proceed with the plan. For some managers, this whole process sounds too much! By consulting multiple stakeholders and going through various perspectives, a lot of time is spent before any action is taken. Such managers prefer a directive decision-making style, which looks quite contrary to the path adopted by Jake above.
A directive decision made by Jake would have led to the development of a new product line based on their experience and expertise without engaging in extensive analysis or consultation with others. They could have speedily finalized the matter based on their experiential or experimental inputs.
While it saves them from the time and effort needed to build a consensus, it can also land them in trouble. Personal #biases and subjectivity can come into play big time. Nonetheless, it can work well for fast-paced teams that rely on one source of direction. Directive decision-making is the way to go in critical situations that call for quick and confident responses. You can read more about the directive decision-making style here.
All decision-making styles come with their sets of pros and cons. While none is the best, one always comes on top, depending on the situation where you are standing. Knowing the different ways you can approach situations is excellent for managers to navigate the complex and constantly evolving environment where teams thrive.