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Decisions! Decisions! Decisions! – Addressing Indecisiveness in the Workplace

decision-pic-2People have trouble making decisions. The influx of information in our society has been rumored the cause of indecisiveness; people have too many options. An abundance of information may be the cause, but it goes deeper than that, fear can be the cause of indecision.

Larry Crane co-creator of The Release Technique wrote on SelfGrowth.com, “Often, it is not the end action that creates the most fear; it is the decision to act or not act.” Crane goes on to say, “Since life offers no guarantees, and you would never know that your decision would be wrong until you have made it, then you might as well let go of all of your fear, take the risk, and decide.”

When you are in conflict, indecisiveness occurs because you want to make the right decision, you don’t want to further a disagreement, and you don’t want backlash from the decision you make. Leaders of groups and organizations may find themselves in trouble if they become too indecisive about making a decision. Many conflicts or issues that arise need quick thinking and executive decisions to proceed further. Indecisions can slow things down and cause impatience and frustration in others. Leaders who don’t enjoy conflict may find themselves avoiding, which further slows the decision-making process.

I worked at an organization, where we were broken into teams and at the end of each month we were required to reach a certain number of sales. Our leader was very laid back and friendly with all team members. One of the team members, we will call her Sandy, was the leader’s best friend outside of work. Sandy was not the best worker; she spent most of her days gossiping and did the bare minimum. Some of my tasks were contingent on Sandy completing hers, which she was not. I approached our leader about Sandy. Her face looked pained as she informed me that others had already approached her regarding Sandy, and she was trying to decide what to do about the issue. The end of the month came, and we didn’t meet our numbers, and our team got in trouble with our leader’s boss. The team’s dynamic began to shift to annoyance and anger with our leader for not handling the Sandy situation. Finally, after two months of failing to meet numbers Sandy was fired. Our leader apologized to the team after Sandy was let go. She said she couldn’t decide what to do. Does she keep Sandy and change the team’s tasks and assignments angering the team or does she fire her which could result in their friendship ending? Her fear and concern led to indecisiveness and inaction.

An organization’s success is contingent on many measures, and leadership is key. Leaders must make tough decisions. If you are a leader, and you avoid conflict and therefore, making difficult choices the success of your team and meeting the organization’s mission could be at risk for failure. Our leader feared losing her friendship and confronting the conflict resulting in the lost respect of her employees., Her indecisiveness kept her stuck. What can leaders do to get unstuck and make those tough decisions?

Tip # 1: Know your end goal. Every time you have to make a tough decision think of what you ultimately want for your employees, customers and organization.

Tip #2: Name the fear. Identify what exactly is the thing you fear most. Naming it lessens the power it has over you.

Tip # 3: Limit your choices. Then, analyze the disadvantages and advantages or your choices. Too many variables and options cause many to feel overwhelmed and make no decision at all.

Tip # 4: When in doubt, chart it out. Spreadsheets, graphs, lists, whatever your preference, use any chart that can visually assist you in making a decision.

Decision-making can be gut-wrenching especially when in conflict or the stakes are high. Being decisive and courageous builds character, confidence and credibility. Now, go make that decision!

Abigail R. C. McManus M.S Negotiation and Conflict Management


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