Succumbing to the stress of decision-making can lead to loss
by Howard Lewinter
May 7, 2018

Running a successful business, especially in construction today, involves challenges at many levels—none as important as the ability to make decisions. An indecisive CEO, president or business owner dooms their company’s ability to operate and grow. Decisions lurk around every corner, within tasks, such as acquiring new projects and creating accurate, profitable job estimates; purchasing equipment and delivering projects on time; and hiring and firing the correct people—all of which lead to unplanned business losses if not done confidently and decisively. Learning to make decisions effectively can be the key factor in propelling a company into a new level of growth and prosperity.

Decisions bring with them a host of potentially devastating consequences, including everything from lost customers and profits to staff reductions and office closings. Frequently, heads of companies become so caught up in the anxiety of making the right decision that they fail to decide at all, endlessly weighing the same options repeatedly. These business leaders are so afraid of making the wrong decision that they mistakenly take comfort in the safety of not making a decision at all—a futile attempt to put off the inevitable.

In other instances, CEOs, presidents and business owners who consider themselves decision makers grant others in the organization the power to make the decisions, giving only the appearance that they are actually in control. Others silently hope something will happen that ultimately makes the decision for them.

For these leaders, the fear of making a wrong decision is so paralyzing that they find it easier to simply not make a decision at all, becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy. The truth, however, is that not making a decision is making a decision.

It is a conscious choice to give up control of the situation and leave events to chance, and it is surely the worst of all possible choices, translating into a lost opportunity to change things for the better as you enter into a new phase of company growth and success.

Daily Decision-Making

Effective decision making is a critical component of any leader’s everyday responsibilities and is essential for a smoothly operating company. Some beginning decisions might include:

  • Who should have keys to open and close the office?
  • Where should supplies be purchased?
  • Who is in charge of hiring, promoting and terminating employees?
  • Where should client meetings take place?
  • Which cleaning service should be used?
  • What will the new marketing campaign look like?
  • What is the best way to source and purchase equipment?
  • When should you go on-site to a current project, and when should you stay in the office?
  • When should you pick up the phone rather than send an email to resolve an issue or reach out to a customer?
  • What is the best wat to quote on a proposed job project?

Business leaders and owners live in the midst of a constant flow of decision-making opportunities. In some instances, the result of the decision is immediate; in other instances, the lasting effects may take years to observe as they infiltrate the company.

Whether the results of a decision are immediate or long term, how you approach making the decision can be the difference between a company that stagnates under a cloud of inactivity and one that blossoms with success.

Effective Business Decisions

To reap the benefits of effective decision making within your organization:

  1. Acknowledge a decision needs to be made.
  2. Collect all the facts.
  3. Invest in time to educate yourself through research.
  4. Ask questions until you are satisfied with the answers.
  5. Observe and listen. This can open your mind to the necessary answers.
  6. Weigh the facts and try to keep emotion out of it.
  7. Consider how each possible decision will impact anything and everything, from a person, division or department, to you and your company overall.
  8. Weigh all the alternatives rather than making a hasty decision.
  9. Overcome the fear of indecisiveness and act.
  10. Analyze the business results.

Potential Outcomes

Sometimes the hardest aspect of making a decision is that you are forced to choose between an outcome that is best for the business and one you would prefer to make from an emotional point of view. A few examples include:

  • Shutting down or reorganizing a division or department of the company, which makes good business sense, but will be devastating to the workers affected
  • Not doing business with a customer with whom you would like to work because it is not profitable
  • Discontinuing a longtime staple of your service line because client demand has changed, even though the faithful few still support it

In these business situations, indecisiveness caused by the fear of facing the decision is often what must be addressed. Once the facts have been lined up and fully-assessed, make your decision, stick with it and look to the future. Then, you will enjoy a sense of accomplishment, and seeing positive results will be even more rewarding.

Being decisive also means being able to recognize when your decision is not unfolding as expected, not delivering the anticipated results or is simply going the wrong way. The decision may be causing failure, a breakdown in the company’s organizational system, weakening of the company image or financial loss. When this happens, don’t let worry and fear paralyze you, inviting disaster. Start back at step one. Cut your losses up front rather than hoping things will turn around as the consequences become more and more devastating. You don’t want to complete a job, only to learn it was not profitable or that there is now a problem with the customer relationship. Face facts in real time.

Making decisions can be stressful. Instead of focusing on the fear, think instead of the process as an opportunity, taking advantage of new experiences and untapped channels for growth. Remember: Business decisions are about choosing to run your company decisively and with vision so that your business dreams become reality. Don’t leave your dreams of success to chance and indecisiveness, suffering the consequences as your business runs you, instead of you running your business.