A Guide to Decision Making for the Boss Who Doesn't Know Everything

Picture of Gina Blitstein Gina Blitstein combines her insight as a fellow small business owner with her strong communication skills, exploring topics that enhance your business efforts. That first-hand knowledge, matched with an insatiable curiosity to know more about just about anything, makes her a well-rounded writer with a sincere desire to engage and inform.

A Guide to Decision Making for the Boss Who Doesn't Know Everything

As the boss of your business, you shoulder all the responsibility. That knowledge can be a tremendous source of pride and accomplishment for its success. It can also be a huge burden for what it requires of the one in charge. When that one is you, you face a daily barrage of decisions, big and small. The truth is, however, being the boss doesn’t magically imbue you with the ability to competently make all those decisions. Delegating decisions of lower importance to trusted staff members is smart management. But when faced with significant decisions, what’s an uncertain boss to do? Here’s some guidance to executive decision-making, done right:

Be honest with yourself and others about what you don’t know

No one knows everything. As sobering as that may be to the ears of a dynamic, successful business owner, it’s the truth. Your strengths are what got to your position of influence; hopefully one of those strengths is the ability to recognize your shortcomings.

Don’t hesitate to admit at some point that you simply don’t know or are unsure as to how to proceed. There’s no shame in that - only humanity. Once you recognize that you lack knowledge, expertise or experience, you can seek it out from others.

Determine where to get help - and reach out

Once you acknowledge that you feel unprepared to make a particular decision, there are a number of sources of information to assist you, including:

  1. Your very own team - Often, the types of decisions an executive needs to make are less a “mandate from on high” and more of a “let’s try this.” That’s why, when possible, involve your team in the decision-making process. While you head up the operation, members of your team are down in the trenches on a daily basis. Perhaps by picking their brains, you can gather the intel you need to make an informed decision, based on actual experience. Since the ultimate goal of your decisions is to facilitate your business’ processes and success, you want your team to understand the whys and wherefores that fuel your thinking on the issues that directly affect them. Gather their insights to learn how your decision will impact their workflow, working conditions, job satisfaction… Work with them to devise ways to optimize the positive effects of your decision(s) and minimize any potential negative effects.
  2. Small Business Administration - This is a powerful resource for the small business owner. They have a plethora of references and informational guides for both new and experienced business owners. They can direct you toward specific information and/or help you identify a mentor in the business world who can share his or her experience with you to provide guidance and enlightenment.
  3. Industry Associations - Being somewhat of a maverick is part of the reason you’re a successful business owner - but don’t let that positive become a negative by isolating yourself from other industry professionals. Be active in associations and groups in your specific industry in which similar decision-making issues are likely to have previously arisen. You may gain pertinent advice in communicating with others who have a similar career trajectory to your own. At the very least, you’ll be reinforced in the knowledge that you aren’t alone in the boat!
  4. Chamber of Commerce - Your local chapter of the Chamber of Commerce may prove to be a useful place to seek business guidance and rub elbows with your fellow business owners. While the intel you gather may be more general than when consulting with others in your industry, it could prove pertinent to your locale.

Once you’ve determined where to try to get the decision-making help you seek, reach out for it! Compile a list of questions that you have and issues about which you are uncertain. Then, make the call, attend the meeting, set the appointment - whatever it takes to get those issues resolved so making the decision isn’t unduly delayed.

Few decisions are carved in stone

Even when you make every effort to inform your decisions with wisdom, knowledge and insight, you may make the wrong one. After all, most decisions come down to a matter of subjective judgment. Circumstances change, as does one’s thinking on certain issues. Remember, as the boss, you get to change your mind if a decision you make turns out to be a less-than-ideal one, or has a different result than anticipated. Admit your mistake, rectify any problems caused by it, and move on. Better to own up to it than make anyone suffer under the influence of a mistake in judgment.

Decisions may not come automatically to you just because you’re the boss - but by seeking out help from those in the know and consensus from your team, you’ll be empowered decide with authority.

Where do you go for decision-making help?

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