When Decision Makers Can’t Make Decisions

Oftentimes, when we think of decision makers, we think of leadership.  Leaders are charismatic people who are able to inspire, make the tough decisions, and influence people and things.

Now, that sounds pretty nice, doesn’t it – being able to call the shots and make things happen?  In fact, if you do a simple Google search and look for top complaints in the workplace, everything can be narrowed down to one thing:  power and influence.  People want to be empowered in order to obtain their needs — whether this be better pay, benefits, health insurance, and so on.

To be able to say that you are a decision maker should be a badge of honor, right?  But what happens when you can’t make a decision?  Who does responsibility fall to then?

Why Decision Makers are Stuck

We live in a hierarchical society — where you land on that hierarchical ladder determines the amount of influence you have on your team, organization or society.  While this power gives people the ability to make things happen, it can also bring things to a halt if they can’t make up their minds.

There are many factors that are attributed to this, but some of the most common reasons we’ve come to see, while working with clients are:

  • Information Overload – While the lack of information can cause lag in the decision-making process, too much information can be harmful as well.  This can cause decision makers to feel overwhelmed, which will either push them to make an uninformed decision or put everything on hold until they are able to sort through the materials.  However, at this point, we often see that those waiting will continue to throw information at decision makers, in order to prove their points and move things forward.  This cycle then continues or decision makers check out altogether.
  • Safety – Safety may not be the first thing you think of when it comes to slow decision making, but this is a key factor affecting decision makers. There are a certain amount of precautions decision makers need to take into consideration before making a call because the decision can have greater effects on the organization or on them.
  • Too Emotionally Invested – Being too emotionally invested in a situation can also prevent efficient decision making. We tend to see that this happens when there’s a conflict between the head and heart of decision makers.  Logically, a certain decision makes sense, but emotionally, it doesn’t.  An example of this would be laying off employees — the icky situation no one wants to touch.  Logically, for the long-term stability of the organization, laying off employees to reduce costs makes sense.  However, knowing that the people you’re laying off need this job to survive makes the decision-making process all the more difficult.

Getting Decision Makers Unstuck

In the end, we commonly find that decision makers are stuck because they hold all the tension and responsibility in the decision-making process.  A simple way to address this is by bringing awareness to the situation, and then figuring out, as a team, how to release and divvy out some of that tension and responsibility.

The key takeaway is that reaching out and relying on others to help make decisions is completely okay.  In fact, by getting people involved, you not only disperse tension, but you give people the opportunity to contribute to the overall well-being of the organization.  This process, overall, helps to make the decision-making process more efficient, while increasing employee engagement and creating an empowering workplace environment.

If you’re interested in learning more about getting unstuck as a leader or need help with the decision-making process in your organization, reach out to The Utech Group.  We offer various services, along with a 12-month program that helps you develop your own team of internal experts.