New Manager’s Survival Guide: Making Decisions

by Ben Richardson
9th November 2019    4 Minutes
Picture Of Man Making A Decision

As a manager, decision making is one of your key roles. Being able to think clearly and so make decisions is a skill that you’ll need to develop.

But not all decisions require a quick response. If they are important it is probably more important to get the decision right than it is to make it quickly so thinking about them is key.

Why Is Decision Making An Important Skill?

As a new manager, your role is to ensure that your team is working as effectively and efficiently as possible.

While you will have some personal responsibilities the key to making a success of your role is to ensure that your people are being as successful as possible. For more on this see our guides to your first day as a line manager and your first month in line management. 

The decisions you make will impact what your team works on and so are critical.

It makes no difference if the team you now manage is highly motivated and working efficiently if your decisions mean that they are working on the wrong things.

A new manager needs to learn a number of key skills and this is one of them.

Identifying Problems in Potential Decisions

In your new management position, you will learn that making informed decisions is tricky. You will have to leave in the real-world which is messy and difficult. Typical problems include:

Time

This is always high on the list and feeling pressured to make a decision can lead to you making the wrong one. Consider the effects of your decision and try not to turn it into a problem by putting unrealistic time restraints on yourself.

Choice

Decisions aren’t always as simple as Option A or Option B. You may face multiple potential solutions or you may not start with any solutions at all and need to start by mapping them out before then working through them to choose from them.

Risk

For each decision, you will need to try to be clear on the risk that the decision isn’t correct. Before coming to a decision you will need to think about how much risk are you prepared to take. How much risk is it appropriate to take on the outcome of this decision?

Support

The decision may be yours to make now that you are a new manager but that doesn’t mean that others in your organisation won’t support you.

Think through who has good experience that could help you reach a good decision and seek their help before making a final decision. Finding mentors as a new manager is key see this article for details.

Data

In order to make effective decisions, you need to know as many of the facts as possible beforehand.

Sometimes accessing the manipulating the relevant data becomes a big task in itself but don’t rush this. Without good data, you can’t do much better than a guess.

 

Best Practices for Better Decision Making

When you are a new manager and faced with the prospect of making important decisions, there are usually 5 steps you will take from start to finish.

  1. Identify the Goal – Be clear on what it is you are trying to achieve.
  • What is the purpose of your decision?
  • What problems could you encounter?
  1. Gather your Information – This will make sure that you are on top of the problem and provide ideas for a potential solution.
  • What data and resources do you need?
  • Can the opinions of others help?
  1. Think of the Consequences – Weigh up the pros and cons to enable you to make your choice.
  • How will the results affect you?
  • How will the results affect your company?
  1. Make your Decision – Nervous feelings about making the decision are natural but can be overcome by asking yourself the right questions before executing your actions.
  • Does it feel right?
  • Can the effects of your decision change or adapt?
  1. Evaluate – It can take time to see results depending on the depth of your decision. Be patient, review your own process as well as what worked and what could be improved.
  • Did it work?
  • Is it currently working?
  • What could you do differently?

See this article for more details on decision-making processes.

When you start to become more comfortable being a key decision-maker, the process gets a lot easier and you will find a way to make your own strategies work for you.

By learning to adapt and change your way of thinking when something doesn’t work, you will become more at ease in making crucial decisions in the long run.

Ways To Improve Your Decision Making Over Time

  1. Document your Decisions

Keep notes on why you have made the decisions that you have, the challenges encountered and how you got around them.

This will be very valuable as in the future you can look back and see what decisions you made why and how they turned out. This provides a valuable feedback loop on both the outcomes of your decisions and your process for gathering information and making decisions.

  1. Form a Network

For a network of mentors that you can turn to. Discussing things openly will help you clarify your thinking and also allow you to solicit feedback from experienced people which will provide valuable learning.

  1. Look for Development Opportunities

Don’t forget about your team. Make them integral to your decision-making process. Seek their thoughts and advice and listen clearly to what they thing and why. This will make them feel valued and involved and give you a different but relevant perspective. For more on running performance reviews as a new manager see this article.

  1. Keep Your Goals In Mind

When you are very busy and stressed it can be easy to lose sight of your key long-term objectives. Remind yourself of these when making big decisions to be sure that your decision is focused on achieving them.

As a new line manager, you will be asked to make a lot of decisions. Learning to make these well and efficiently will be another key long term line management skill that you need to develop.