In this article we will discuss about the common difficulties faced in decision making with guidelines for making it effective.
Common Difficulties in Decision Making:
Some common difficulties faced in making decisions and implementing them are as follows:
i. Incomplete Information:
This is a major problem for every manger. Lack of information leaves a manager adrift in a sea of uncertainty. Not only this, most decisions involve too many complex variables for one person to be able to examine all of them fully.
ii. Un-supporting Environment:
The environment—physical and organizational—that prevails in an enterprise affects both the nature of decisions and their implementation. If there is all round goodwill and trust and if the employees are properly motivated, the manager is encouraged to take decisions with confidence. On the other hand, under the opposite circumstances he avoids decision-making.
iii. Non-Acceptance by Subordinates:
If subordinates have a stake in the decision or are likely to be strongly affected by it, acceptance will probably be necessary for effective implementation. On the other hand, subordinates may not really care what decision is reached. In such situations, acceptance is not an issue.
Democratic leadership style which encourages subordinates to suggest, criticize, make recommendations or decide upon policies or projects is an effective device for gaming their acceptance and commitment.
iv. Ineffective Communication:
Another important problem in decision-making is the ineffective communication of a decision. This makes implementation difficult. The manager should, therefore, take care to communicate all decisions to the employees in clear, precise and simple language.
v. Incorrect Timing:
In decision-making, the problem is not merely of taking a correct decision. It is also of selecting an appropriate time for taking the decision. If the decision is correct but the time is inopportune, it will not serve any purpose. For example, if the manager wants to decide about introducing a new product in the market, he should take the decision at a correct time. Otherwise, he may lose the market to his competitors.
Guidelines for Effective Decision Making:
Decision making is an arduous task. A successful and correct decision is gratifying to the decision maker but he also experiences frustration when he faces ill-structured and uncertain situations and when his decision fails to achieve the decision objectives. Yet, managers must make decisions as it is their most important responsibility to their organization.
They cannot afford to display an attitude of “sailing around the world without landing”, and “talking about a subject without getting it”. The success of an executive depends on his ability to make the right decision at the right time and to pursue its effective implementation.
The following guidelines are offered as an aid to effective decision making:
1. Define the Goals:
The decision maker should define the goals that he seeks to achieve by making a decision. The goal of a decision is derived from his objectives which in turn are a part of the total organizational objectives. Thus, the goal of a decision should be compatible with and contribute to larger goals.
2. Ensure that the Decision Contributes to the Goal:
Once the goal has been determined, it becomes the criterion for making the decisions, as well as for evaluating its results. Often, an executive seeks to achieve not one but more than one goals through a decision.
For example, the goal of a marketing decision may be not only to increase the sales volume but also increase the profit margin. These goals may not always be compatible. It requires the decision maker to balance the conflicting goals in such a manner that he can achieve all the goals simultaneously.
3. Adopt a Diagnostic Approach:
A decision maker has to be a diagnostician in many ways. He has to identify and define the problem. Further, he has to diagnose what and how much information is relevant to the problem being attacked, and where he will get it. Development and evaluation of alternative also require diagnostic abilities.
He also has to diagnose the surrounding situation comprising the internal and external environmental forces. Thus, effectiveness in decision making significantly depends on an executive’s diagnostic abilities.
4. Involve Subordinates in Decision Making Process:
Involvement of subordinates in decision making process serves many purposes. It improves the quality of the decision, particularly if the decision maker does not possess all the special abilities required for making a particular decision. It is more likely to happen than not, as every decision has several aspects such as administrators, technical, human relations and financial aspects.
The most important stage at which subordinates’ participation can enhance the decision quality is the stage of development and evaluation of alternative solutions to problems. Their participation can bring not only new insights to the problem, but also elicit their commitment to implement the decision. Those who participate in making a decision tend to become ego involved in it, and thereby committed to its successful implementation.
5. Ensure Successful Implementation of the Decision:
Even the best decision will not yield satisfactory results unless, it is implemented effectively. Successful implementation of a decision significantly depends on the extent of understanding of the decision and its implications, and motivation of the subordinates who have to carry it.
An executive can enhance his effectiveness in both these directions by promoting upward communication. He should also be able to know when and what kind of guidance is needed by them, and be willing to extend it to those who need it. He can be more effective if he successfully welds his subordinates into a team with himself as the team leader.
6. Evaluate the Results:
The purpose of a decision is to accomplish some goal which will not be attained without it. The results of the decision should, therefore, be evaluated in terms of its predetermined goals.
7. Be Flexible:
The decision maker should adopt a flexible approach not only in making the decision but also after the decision has been put into implementation. If it is not yielding the desired results, he should modify, discard, or replace it with another decision which may produce better results.