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6 Decision Making Tips for New Managers

13 July 2021

6 Decision Making Tips for New Managers


Every decision a manager or leader makes will have an impact on their organization’s future. Experienced managers know what it’s like to constantly make decisions, sometimes even under pressure. But what if you’re new to management, possibly leading a team or department for the first time? How do you make the best possible decisions to achieve success? This post shares six decision making tips to help new managers avoid common mistakes and sharpen their decision making skills.

1 Don’t Lose Sight of Your Goals and Purpose

It’s common for managers and team members to lose sight of the goals and purpose of the decision as they’re trying to arrive at a decision or solve a problem. Before anything else, make sure you clearly define the goals you’re working towards and to refer to them throughout the task or project.

One of the best decisions you can make is to ensure you set goals with your team. This will help encourage their commitment and ‘buy-in’.  Your team will feel motivated by their inclusion, and this will help them understand how their contributions affect both the project at hand, and larger organisational objectives. However, it’s easy to get so involved in these conversations that you can (all) lose track of the purpose. So it’s especially important to continually revisit and reflect on original goals, particularly when working on large or complex projects. 

2 Follow a Rational Process

Decision making is the process of making a choice between a number of options and committing to a future course of actions. So new managers would be wise to follow a logical, structured decision making process. It is especially important for more complex or important decisions which are best made after undertaking a series of steps. Understanding this process is vital to making good decisions. Especially where the resources impact is high, or the outcome implications are important. A rational approach consists of a sequence of structured steps, designed to rationally develop a desired solution. Our own rational decision making model consists of the following steps:

Rational Decision Making Model

A Rational Decision Making Model

For new managers, the main strength of a rational decision making model is that it provides structure and discipline to the decision making process. It helps ensure we consider the full range of factors relating to a decision, in a logical and comprehensive manner.

3 Don’t Ignore Your Instincts 

One of the principle assumptions of a rational decision making process is that human beings make rational decisions. However, there is often a wide range of factors which determine our decisions, many of which are not rational. In many situations, decisions have to be made with incomplete and/or insufficient information.

In this context, an understanding of intuitive decision making approaches is useful. Recent thinking on how people make decisions contrasts rational processes with a less structured intuitive decision making which places more emphasis on feelings, perceptions and judgements, rather than facts and analysis.

An emerging research base in the behavioural sciences suggests that intuitive decision making is more prevalent than we may have thought. The basic insight drawn from behavioural economics is that behaviour is not guided by pure logic. Humans do not analyse the costs and benefits of every action. Our actions are informed and controlled by a complex combination of emotion, instinct, social influences and the human brain. However new managers should tread carefully before taking the plunge and trusting their intuition too much. Make sure you weigh up other critical factors, such as your decision making style and the type of decision you need to make.  

4 Make Evidence-Based Decisions

It might be tempting to use your judgement or base decisions on past experiences, familiarity, or intuition. But while instinct-based decisions have merit, the experiences you may have had when working for other organisations may not necessarily apply to the situation you’re facing.

Evidence-based management or EBM uses scientific evidence to inform decisions, if you’re not sure about trusting your instincts too much. Here are some of the things you can do to incorporate EBM into your decision making:

  • Challenge what you feel. Is there any evidence to support your gut feel?
  • Find out if a suggested course of action is supported by data.
  • Gather complete and the latest performance data to support your decisions.
  • Always check if the business data you’re using is current and objective.
  • Assess whether common business strategies apply to your unique situation.
5 Don’t Be Afraid to Ask!

A good manager doesn’t just rely on their own opinions. Asking colleagues and team members for information and opinions is not a sign of management weakness, it’s a sign of maturity and willingness to learn. Be open-minded and seek out help and advice wherever you think it is appropriate. And make sure you ask because you genuinely want input, not just for the show of it. Don’t forget, asking the right questions is the best management tool you can use.

If you want to consult others about an issue, be sure to view it from as many angles as possible before talking to other people. In doing so, you avoid being limited by their ideas and suggestions. Once you fully understand the problem, seek out others to see if they can add to the solution. Encourage information sharing within your team and in your company. Foster an atmosphere for open conversations where your team members can freely communicate their thoughts. One of the ways you can do this is through ensuring your team meetings are well structured and managed. This can help you make the right decisions but can also increase job satisfaction, boost morale and promote more effective teamwork.

6 Establish Psychological Safety

To effectively promote an atmosphere for open conversations, your employees and team members should feel comfortable working collaboratively and sharing their opinions with others. According to the 2019 People Management Report, managers who consciously establish psychological safety are less likely to experience employee turnover. A psychologically safe environment retains top performers, so here’s how HR managers in small businesses can foster psychological safety:

  • Be engaging. Pay attention to your team members when they speak, otherwise they’ll shut down. This shows that you value what they’re saying. Make eye contact, be present, and practice active listening. Encourage them that it’s okay to speak up and all suggestions and opinions are welcome.
  • Let them know that you understand. If your people trust that you are genuinely making an effort to understand what they are saying, they will feel safe. This will lead to better engagement and commitment. Try using open ended questions to ensure you’re hearing what they are meaning to say. Language like, “What I hear you saying is_____. Did I understand you correctly?” This shows that you actively want to understand their perspective. It also gives others the opportunity to clarify anything you’ve misunderstood.
Decision Making and the Effective Manager

To sum up, improving your decision-making skills is a critical tool if you want to advance your career as a manager. Successful organisations recognize employees who make good decisions based: on sound judgment; use of appropriate processes, data and evidence; and welcoming input from appropriate sources. 

Decision Making Resources

For more decision making resources look at our great-value guides. These include some excellent tools to help your personal development plan. The best-value approach is to buy our Decision Making Bundle, available from the store.

These are the 6 key PDF guides we recommend to help you make better decisions. We’ve bundled them together to help you develop your decision making skills – at half the normal price! Each guide is great value, packed with practical advice, tips and tools on how to make better decisions.

Read the guides in this order and use the tools in each. Then turn problems into opportunities and decide … to be a better manager! Together the bundle contains: 6 pdf guides, 178 pages, 30 tools, for half price!

Making Better Decisions

What’s the Problem?

Do More With Less

Extreme Thinking – Unlocking Creativity

SMART Goals, SHARP Goals

The Problems with Teams

Blog Content: Most blog pages on this site are from sponsored or guest contributors. Although we may receive payment for these, all posts are vetted to ensure they meet our editorial standards and offer value for our readers.
>> Return to the Decision Making Knowledge Hub

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