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Popular Methods for Decision Making

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Decision-making is an important skill for leaders to develop, as they often are required to make decisions that could have a large impact on the success of the company. Because every situation is different, it’s important to understand and utilize different methods of decision-making in order to make effective decisions. In this article, you can learn about the different types of decision-making methods as well as tips for mastering the decision-making process.

What are decision-making methods?

A decision-making method is a systematic approach to making decisions. Relying on a decision-making method to make decisions is an efficient way to make informed decisions that have a positive effect on the short- and long-term goals of an organization.

Why is it important to understand the different decision-making methods?

The best and most influential leaders adjust their decision-making methodology according to the circumstances. Different situations require different approaches to decision-making. By understanding the different methods for making a decision, leaders can make effective decisions more easily. 

Types of decision-making methods

Here is a look at the six most common types of decision-making methods:

Command 

This style of decision-making is where leaders make decisions independently, without consulting their teams. This is an effective decision-making method when you need to act quickly and give your team immediate guidance. It’s the best decision-making method in crisis situations when there is no time to consult with other team members about a final decision.

Collaborative 

This decision-making style is also known as evidence-based decision-making. With this method, leaders gather their teams, share the problem and all evidence and ask for feedback. While the leader, ultimately, makes the final decision, they have discussed the situation with their teams and gained key insight that they may not have otherwise considered. If you’re going to use this method, it’s important to talk to team members who are able to argue the other side, as this will help to clarify your decision, whether you follow their advice or not.

Consult

Consult style decision-making is where you invite others to help you make a more informed decision. You may consult with experts, a select group of employees or even anyone who wants to give you their opinion. This can be an effective decision-making method for gaining ideas without slowing down the decision-making process. Leaders often use this method, gathering ideas, evaluating the possible options and then making their decision before they communicate it with the rest of their team.

Vote 

With this decision-making method, leaders gather their teams and everyone votes on what they believe to be the best option. The decision is made based on the vote of the majority of the team members. Vote-style decision-making is best reserved for situations where efficiency is of the highest importance and you’re selecting from multiple good options. While everyone may not get the option they voted for, if all of the options are good and the decision needs to be made quickly, this method will achieve the desired result.

Consensus 

With this type of method, your entire team discusses the issue until everyone agrees to one decision. Because this type of decision-making method can take significant time, it should only be used when you are facing a highly-important and complex issue or when everyone absolutely has to support the final decision.

Convenience 

With this style of decision-making, the leader completely delegates the decision-making process. The primary benefits of this style of decision-making are that it allows you to measure the decision-making skills of different members of your team while you focus on other, higher-priority tasks and it empowers the members of your team. Delegating decision-making also enables you to build a better, more confident management team and potentially uncover new, innovative approaches to problems.

Tips for mastering the decision-making process

Here are some additional tips to help you master the decision-making process:

Choose the right decision-making method

Reaching the appropriate decision in a timely manner is often dependent on choosing the right decision-making method. In order to choose the right method, you’ll first need to determine who wants to be involved and who will be affected. You’ll also need to determine who has expertise related to the decision and who the key stakeholders are. Finally, you must determine how many people should be involved. Ultimately, you want to involve the fewest number of people. 

The command method is a good choice if you need a rapid decision and don’t require agreement from other members of your team. If you do, consensus or voting would be more appropriate. The consult method is also a good option, regardless of whether you need others to agree, as you can gain ideas and support without delaying the process. Voting, collaborative or consensus decision-making styles are great options if you need the support of your team.

Establish a positive decision-making environment

Accurate decisions can be reached more quickly when you have a positive decision-making environment. To create this, you should first make sure everyone understands the topic and problem you’re trying to resolve. Make sure you also articulate what obstacles could prevent you from resolving the problem. 

After making sure everyone has the necessary information, you should consider creating rules for the discussion process. For example, if you know that certain employees have opposing viewpoints, you may want to give each person an allotted amount of time to present their perspective. A format like this ensures that everyone is heard and that a decision is reached more easily.

Identify elements are preventing decision-making

Be aware of any elements that get in the way of your ability to make decisions. If you’re not sure what they are—or whether you have any—reflect on the process objectively. You may also want to ask team members what they’ve noticed about your decision-making abilities. Being aware of any elements that impact your decision-making can help you make more effective and timely decisions in the future.

Research to fill any information gaps

Before making a decision, evaluate whether you have all of the information necessary to make an informed decision. If you notice any information gaps, conduct research so you can present all the information to your colleagues at one time. Avoid providing too much information by focusing on what’s most important for the decision and leaving out irrelevant details.

Be aware of decision biases

Biases in decision-making can happen as a result of personal preference, improper reasoning, memory or evaluation. While it can be difficult to recognize all of the biases that you may have, given the numerous decisions you make each day, being aware of them can often be enough to mitigate the risks.

Be realistic about the risk-taking

Because people are naturally resistant to change, it’s important to be realistic and objective about the risks associated with change. If your business never makes changes, you may miss out on valuable opportunities. When evaluating opportunities, think about which opportunity you would choose if you were starting your business fresh. 

Cost-benefit analysis

A cost-benefit analysis can be highly effective in helping you reach the best possible decision. With this technique, you examine the positive and negative outcomes that could happen as a result of a decision. A cost-benefit analysis is particularly useful because it allows you to recognize opportunity costs that you may have otherwise overlooked. 

To make it easier to conduct a cost-benefit analysis, limit the number of options you’re choosing among. You will also find that narrowing options lead to greater peace of mind as you are less inclined to question your decision after it’s been made.