Different employers look for different things, of course, but decision-making skills are sought by virtually all companies. That's because all employees are faced with decisions in the workplace, big and small, every day.
In general, applicants who can demonstrate an ability to identify all the options and compare them in terms of both cost and effectiveness have an advantage over those who can’t.
What Are Decision-Making Skills?
Whether it's a question of deciding which candidate to hire, which consultant to use, or what business plan to execute, having the capacity to make the best decision is critical for organizations. Organizational culture and leadership style together determine the process of decision-making in any company.
Some companies may use a consensus-based approach, while others depend on a manager or management group to make all major decisions for the company.
Many organizations use a mixture of centralized and consensus-based styles. How an individual employee participates in the decision-making process depends on his or her position within the overall structure of the company.
The Decision-Making Process
A good way to make the most informed decision is to follow a process that assures you are taking into account all relevant information and considering each of the most probable outcomes. A step-by-step checklist like this is valuable for that purpose:
- Define the problem, challenge, or opportunity.
- Generate an array of possible solutions or responses.
- Evaluate the costs and benefits, or pros and cons, associated with each option.
- Select a solution or response.
- Implement the option chosen.
- Assess the impact of the decision and modify the course of action as needed.
You will not always find yourself going through all six steps in an obvious way. You might be responsible for one aspect of the process but not the others, or several steps might be merged, but someone still should be going through each step in one way or another. Skipping steps usually leads to poor outcomes.
Remember to develop strategies to ensure that you have not overlooked important information or misunderstood the situation, and be sure to uncover and correct for any biases you may have.
Types of Decision-Making Skills
Even if you do not yet have management experience, you probably have made decisions in a professional setting. Because decision-making is not always a cut-and-dried process, though, you might not have recognized what you were doing.
These examples provide a sense of what activities from your own work history you can share with potential employers to demonstrate your decision-making skills. Be sure to keep your sharing as relevant to the requirements for the position as possible.
Finding the best solution when faced with a problem is of utmost importance, and taking a measured approach will help you get there. Having the ability to problem-solve thoughtfully and logically while incorporating different perspectives is essential. Leaving your emotions at the door also allows you to look at the problem from every angle. Regardless of your field, you will be faced with many problems. Those of us who don’t let this fact overwhelm us will thrive in our chosen careers.
- Active Listening
- Benchmark Development
- Causal Analysis
- Creative Thinking
- Data Analysis
- Data Gathering
- Historical Analysis
- Needs Identification
- Process Analysis
- Project Implementation
- Project Management
- Project Planning
- Test Development
- Time Management
There are going to be times when you will need the input of others to come to a decision. You will need to recognize when decisions need collaboration and then foster team meetings to come to the best decision. Being able to communicate your goals clearly and welcome feedback are central to a collaborative environment.
- Active Listening
- Asking for Feedback
- Clear Communication
- Embracing Differences
- Honest Feedback
- Knowledge Sharing
- Processing Ideas
- Setting Expectations
- Team-Building Activities
- Team Player
Having high emotional intelligence means that you are aware of and in control of your emotionsand that you can express them in a healthy, measured manner. It is important to not let your emotions take over when coming to an informed decision. When you are working with others to come to a decision central to the decision-making process, it's especially important to control your emotions so you can effectively convey your opinions.
- Active Listening
- Social Skills
In order to come to an informed decision, you will need to look at all the facts presented to you. This is where logic comes in. Weighing all the advantages and disadvantages of your actions is at the core of every measured decision. Your emotions will need to take a back seat in order for you to avoid compromising your rational decision-making. For example, if a colleague with whom you have a close working relationship has been accused of harassing another employee, it is imperative that you remove your emotions in order to move forward fairly.
- Cost Analysis
- Critical Thinking
- Deductive Reasoning
- Emotional Regulation
- Independent Thinking
- Information Gathering
- Managing Emotions
- Reflective Learning
- Risk Assessment
- Scientific Analysis
More Decision-Making Skills
- Conducting Polls
- Consensus Building
- Identifying Problems
- Lateral Thinking
- Technological Expertise
- Strong Leadership
- Team Management
- Time Management
Examples of Workplace Decision-Making Skills
- Identifying a faulty machine as the source of disruptions in the production process.
- Facilitating a brainstorming session to generate possible names for a new product.
- Polling staff to gauge the impact of extending retail hours.
- Conducting a comparative analysis of proposals from three advertising agencies and selecting the best firm to lead a campaign.
- Soliciting input from staff members on an issue important to the company’s future.
- Surveying customers to evaluate the impact of a change in pricing policy.
- Implementing the shutdown of a designated plant with excess manufacturing capacity.
- Generating a list of options for a new regional sales territory.
- Evaluating the impact of several possible cost-cutting measures.
- Comparing the leadership potential of different team members and choosing a project manager.
- Researching possible legal or logistical problems associated with a new company policy.
- Brainstorming possible themes for a fundraising campaign.
- Analyzing data from focus groups to help select packaging for a new product.
- Comparing the strengths and weaknesses of three potential vendors for processing payroll.
Remember that the critical skill in decision-making is not learning techniques, but knowing how and when to apply the basic principles and constantly reevaluating and improving your methods. If you or the teams you are a part of consistently achieve good results, then you are making decisions well.
How to Make Your Skills Stand Out
ADD YOUR MOST RELEVANT SKILLS TO YOUR RESUME: When you're applying for a leadership role, be sure to include examples of your accomplishments in your resume.
HIGHLIGHT YOUR SKILLS IN YOUR COVER LETTER: Use your cover letter to show the hiring manager that you're a strong match for the job by mentioning how your qualifications fit the job requirements.
USE SKILL WORDS DURING JOB INTERVIEWS: Even if you do not yet have management experience, you probably have made decisions in a professional setting. Use examples of these during interviews.