Making Tough Decisions as a Boss. Part 1 of 2

June 18, 2018

decisionsMaking Tough Decisions as a Boss. Part 1 of 2

In the last post, you tried to get money for the new project only to find yourself outmaneuvered and forced to find half of it within your existing budget. That is, you must take money from your other two units to give to Mike.

There are basically three options for deciding how the money will be moved. The following table gives you their pros and cons.

Options Pros Cons
Option 1: You decide ·       Quick

·       Efficient

·       Bigger picture will be kept in mind

·       Don’t have to deal with supervisors jockeying for position (i.e. power undercurrent)

·       May not be effective as you may not understand the details of each unit enough to reallocate the money correctly

·       May anger/alienate some/all of your staff

Option 2: Supervisors decide ·       Everybody gets heard

·       New solutions might be tabled

·       Transparent

·       Lose control of the outcome

·       Will take longer to decide

·       Not all relevant factors may be considered

Option 3: Supervisors discuss; you decide ·       Keep control of the process

·       Everybody gets heard

·       New solutions might be tabled

·       Transparent

·       All relevant factors will be considered

·       May take longer to decide

·       Need to be aware of the power/prestige undercurrent operating

The circumstances surrounding the decision may push your choice towards one or another direction. If time is a critical factor, you might have to decide. If it’s paramount that all supervisors take responsibility for the decision, Option 2 might be the way to go. All other things being equal, my preference would be Option 3.

Whichever option you choose, you need to ensure that you in some way address its downsides to minimize their potential damage.

Why Option 3?

Option 3 is probably the most difficult to manage but I think it most closely mirrors the facts of organizational life. Your role as a manager is to make tough decisions and throwing this one to the supervisors to settle is an abdication of that responsibility. On the other hand, the best way to have people support something is to let them have their say, allow them to hear counter arguments from others, and recognize that it is a difficult circle to square.  Option 3 allows for both factors.

Will everybody be happy with the decisions?

Nobody sets out to upset their employees so if it’s possible to please everyone while still making the right decision, by all means do it.

However, that’s not always possible and in particular, this situation looks like a zero sum game. There will be winners and losers so aiming for everyone to be satisfied in this case is, I think, overly optimistic. However, it is possible to get to a state where everyone understands the difficult choices and accepts, however grudgingly, the outcome.

Even if you aren’t able to do this, it’s important to understand that the decision needs to be based on what’s best and not what will offend the fewest people.

The next post will illustrate how to make a tough decision.

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