Career Development

How to Follow a Decision-Making Process

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By having a thoughtful decision-making process, you can make smarter choices that are more likely to have positive outcomes. Some decisions you must make might have a greater impact on your life and need to be made based on their predicted consequences or results. Learn about the steps you can follow when making your next important decision.

What is a decision-making process?

A decision-making process is the set of steps you take to make a choice when presented with multiple alternative options. Many people make their decisions based on their values, beliefs and preferences. However, it is also important to make decisions based on gathered information and evidence. This helps you predict the outcome of each choice and make a better decision. 

Why are decision-making skills important?

Decision-making is a valuable skill in many roles where companies want employees who have intuitive problem-solving skills to make quick decisions. By having a decision-making process in place that works for you, it can allow you to better evaluate your choices and feel more confident about your final decision. When you follow a decision-making process, you can determine if you made the right choice or if you would choose a different option in the future. Learning from your mistakes and successes is a vital part of growing as a person and developing your decision-making skills. 

Steps to following a decision-making process

Here are some steps you can follow to help make smarter and more timely decisions:

1. First, establish the decision to be made

The first step in your decision-making process is to establish exactly what decision needs to be made. This may sound straightforward, but it is an important step to make sure you are narrowing your focus on what is important.

Identify what problem or situation you need to address and rule out other decisions that will need to be made at a different time. Then determine what your desired goal or outcome is. Think of who the decision will impact and how urgent your decision is. 

2. Second, find relevant information

Now that you have identified the decision you need to make, start collecting relevant information that will help you narrow down your choices. Find data about the situation or problem and look at what has happened in similar situations. Oftentimes, you can find information online or at your local library. 

3. Third, determine all of your options

Once you understand more about your situation, look at all of your choices. Most situations present multiple options you can choose from. Use your problem-solving skills to think of alternative choices that could work better for you. 

Getting advice from an outside source can help you think of even more options. Find someone who can help you look at the situation without any biases. You can ask your coworkers or manager in the workplace, or you can ask a trusted friend or family member. 

Look at the situation from multiple points of view. First, think of how it will affect yourself. Then, start to think of how your decision will affect others, such as your team or the department. 

4. Fourth, look at the evidence

For each choice, begin to predict the outcome of each one based on the evidence you can find. Perhaps one choice will benefit everyone involved while another choice will significantly benefit you more. You need to decide which of these options fits your core values and ethics best. 

Remember, in some situations, it’s impossible to make everyone happy. You might want to make the decision that will have the most benefits overall. For example, if you are deciding which job offer to take, you should choose the job that fulfills your wants and needs and allows you to support your family rather than a job that impresses others. 

You could also talk to someone who has had to make a similar decision too. This may be someone who has a similar job or life experiences as you. This way, you can learn from any mistakes they made and make your decision based on what has worked well for others. You should also consider that every situation is unique and could have different outcomes. Think of potential outcomes that could happen along the way and how you will act on them. 

5. Fifth, make your decision 

After learning more about your situation, evaluating your options and predicting each outcome, you need to make your decision. Often, multiple choices will be sufficient, but you still need to decide which one will work best for you. 

After making your decision, run through each part of your plan before acting on it. Think of what you will do if one of your predicted outcomes happens, likewise, think of what you will do if it doesn’t happen. This way, you will be more prepared for whatever happens. 

6. Sixth, carry out your decision

Eventually, you need to implement your final decision. You want to do this soon after you made your decision so you don’t continue to evaluate the situation and change your mind. If you have completed the steps above, you should be fully prepared to take action. 

Once you carry out your decision, take note of what happens. Decide whether or not you reached your intended outcome or if you wish something else happened. Also, determine if the outcome happened due to your decision-making process or if it was simply out of your control. 

7. Finally, reflect on the outcome

Use your decision to influence future decisions you make. Analyze exactly what happened and if you followed your intended plan or made different choices at the last minute. Every choice you make is a chance to learn and do better next time. If you made the right decision, then you could do the same in the future or think of new ways to make your outcome even better.