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Thursday, 4 November 2010

Taking Your Business to the Gym – Resolving Decision Overload

StressImage via Wikipedia
Decision overload condition, as I have described in an earlier article Recognising Decision Overload is simply where the business owner becomes so swamped by the amount of decisions and tasks he has to complete that it stops the business in its tracks.  This condition is often created by the business owner inadvertently training their staff that w
hen they come up against a problem, their best and/or safest course of action is not to make a decision, but, refer it to the business owner.
Having created, albeit unknowingly, this vicious circle the question is how do we create a virtuous circle?
The first step is to understand why business owners end up there in the first place. Often it’s because of the business owners lack of understanding that he shouldn’t attempt provide solutions for every problem, and second decision making should be “Fit for Purpose” and should not involve “gold plating the bathroom taps”. That is, don’t use a £100,000 a year man to make decisions on issues that can easily be made by a person paid £20,000 a year.
So how can this be achieved? The first step is to stop enforcing the vicious circle. Allow staff to make decisions. So when a member of staff says “I’ve got this problem; what do I do?” don’t rush to tell them but respond with “what do you think you should do?” Initially this will be met by a blank stare or even a look of amazement, but, fear not, this is the most important step. You could follow this up with  “why don’t you go away and think about it for a bit and come back with some ideas and we can talk about which one is best”
Initially it is going to make things a little harder and slow down overall decision making but it is critical to allowing you to work your way out of a job and to allow your staff to fill it. Once over the initial shock you’ll be surprised how quickly some of your staff will learn to take decisions. This is a difficult area for many business owners as firstly; they are uncomfortable delegators and secondly; are perfectionists (often confused with control freaks, although they can be that too) and expect that staff will make all the same decisions as they would. This won’t happen they will make more mistakes than you the owner; they may not be quite as good decisions but the additional time gained by the business owner in delegating these decisions will more than make up for these additional interventions.
Decision Making ChartImage by West Virginia Blue via FlickrThis simple act of delegation and management can be enormously liberating. I can quote a number of occasions where just applying this process has transformed the performance of small businesses. It has freed the owner from almost unbearable stress and allowed him to concentrate on issues more deserving of his attention and transformed employee from mere jobsworths’ to committed and hugely valuable assets.
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Exigent Consulting specialises in providing Business Turnaround, Sales, Marketing and Mentoring to the Small and Medium Business. We help Business Owners improve the profit performance of their business.

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