You’ve started to work as a new GM at a winery only a couple of days ago. You are holding a management meeting for working out new strategies, mission and vision. Two of your colleagues would like to leave the meeting saying: a pipe burst for the millionth time in a short period and they have to be there to fix it. How would you decide? Would you let them go or require them to stay?
You have time to think about it now, write down pros and cons, open an argument with friends/colleagues over this situation, but in the pioneer of its kind leadership development serious game: FLIGBY, or rather in real life situations you will be required making decisions under time pressure.
What do you feel when you are required to decide here and now without adequate information? Are you stressed? Do you freeze down? Or are you still able to take an authoritative and consistent decision?
My first reaction to the question whether it would be possible to make the right decision under time pressure would be: no, that’s not possible. First I need to analyze the situation and consider alternatives. On the other hand, there’s the risk of over-analyzing and complicating simple situations if you have sufficient time to think. In addition to the examples from my personal life that I wouldn’t list here now, I have found several articles (based on researchers) proving that actually, it’s possible to make the right decision under time pressure. What is the reason behind it?
An article that was published in the journal of the Association for Psychological Science reviewed how stress defines people’s decision making. Surprisingly enough it was found that actually, people make much more good decisions under pressure than they would think so: instead of dwelling on the negatives focus more on the positive outcomes under stress. It was also found that women and men respond differently to stress and use different solutions under time pressure: men more willingly take risks while women prefer strengthening their social bonds. How can pressure help to make good decisions? It can force you to better focus your attention on the relevant factors, use unconscious reasoning (aka gut feelings) and think clearly having unambiguous priorities in mind.
Here are some tips on how you can improve your decision-making skills even under pressure:
- Be prepared for different scenarios: think through worst case scenarios, make some conclusions about possible actions and outcomes.
- Risk analysis: it may help to identify ways of reducing or even eliminating threats
- Evaluate the situation: take into consideration which scenarios you have already considered closely that matches to the one that just has happened.
- Get rid of irrelevant information and facts that don’t require immediate reaction and attention.
- Score the possible options: writing down the best possible options might help you to stay focused in a chaotic situation.
- Talk about your decision to a trusted colleague/friend: this exercise can help you to identify neglected possible options and clarify your decision.
- Really listen to the people around you and hear what they say instead of hearing what you expect them to say.
- Let others know in advance if their immediate action or responsibility is required in such decision-making situation.
- Learn how and from whom you might ask for help if needed.
- My addition would be: learn how to use and trust your intuition. The way I see it: the future is for those leaders who know how to use the soft skills including EQ and intuitive thinking, who are flexible enough to handle complex situations in a fast paced environment and economic system.