How to make decisions with precision - and confidence

Companies and organizations that truly embrace employee empowerment give their staff freedom and the tools to make day-to-day decisions and carry them out. While this can make our jobs easier and more fulfilling, it can also make them more challenging - particularly if we lack faith in our decision-making capabilities. Here are some confidence-building suggestions:

Know the company you work for. This one deserves first mention, because without understanding the core values, goals, priorities and challenges of your organization, you won’t have the foundation needed to make decisions in your company’s best interest.

Gather as much information as needed. Depending on the circumstances, you may need to take time to do some research. Alternatively, you may need to make an on-the-spot decision, based on answers to a few key questions. Either way, gather pertinent information, but not to the extent that your analysis turns into paralysis.

Ask yourself: What if? Explore the consequences of each of your options. Most companies are trying to see their policies and operations through their customers’ eyes - and you should do likewise. This applies to internal customers as well.

Pretend you’re an outsider. To gain perspectives try to look at the situation from an outsider’s point of view. What would you tell a friend to do if s/he were in the same situation?

Be creative. Beware against automatically patterning your responses after what’s been done in the past. While history can be a reliable guide, change is occurring so rapidly today that better ways of doing things are always taking shape.

Know when to seek help. When there’s a lot at stake, whether it’s the cost, the customer or company reputation involved, get top level input.

Follow up. Ensure that your response has led to a positive outcome. If so, let it be a confidence builder. If not, learn from it to help you handle similar situations in the future… if this is not too late.