Making Decisions

Many of us these days are either semi self employed or fully self employed. In any case, decision making in business (ours or someone else’s) has lost it’s focus.

Much research was once directed at how decisions should be made. The models for decision making often started with “Identify (something eg. a goal, or objective, or need)” and ended with “Evaluate”.

I want to present my own approach which is simpler and easy to understand:

Regardless whether you work in HR, or for yourself as a freelance – When we decide to do anything we must consider it’s effect on:

The Short Term

Will this decision have benefits over the next few months?

The Long Term

Will this decision have benefits for years to come?

Part of the business

Will this decision positively improve each individual involved in the business (not just some of them)?

A part of a business is other employees, capital equipment, yourself as an individual.

The whole business.

Will the decision cause the business to grow?

Growth can be in wealth, or in knowledge, or in profit, or in sales (or anything that sees an improvement in the overall sphere)

Most importantly we must always refer back to the fact that the business is simultaneously achieving all these things. Imagine for example chess. At any one time we can make several moves. However, some of these moves will only give us a temporary advantage. Others will give us only a long term advantage. Others can yield both a temporary and long term advantage. The goal is to always seek the “best” move.

An example with HR and temp hires:

There are companies who’s HR department hires temps to work. The company wants to save money (“cost cutting”). The temps are hired to be the highest possibly educated. At the same time they are paid half of what the full time staff are being paid. The company does not want to promote these temps to higher posts because this will mean salary increases to the same levels as permanent staff. Salary increases are fought and disputed over.

How does this decision work according the above model? The temps see that their career is a dead end – they become frustrated working as hard as others but not receiving any benefits (such as higher wages and medical aid). They become unmotivated. Now in the short term, the company is saving money. In the long term the company has no new experienced staff.

The result could actually be an increase in cost – the high staff turnover rate will boil down to constantly losing experienced workers (as soon as any other job offer appears). The unmotivated staff will simply leave as they can see no long term benefit for themselves. The human mind is always preoccupied with “what about the future” and  “who cares about me”.
A “better move” would be to give guarantees to the employees guaranteeing them permanent employment in the future.

In decision making it’s best to look for the “one better move than the others”.  Sometimes we sacrifice examining the clients we take on just to get an extra rand. Either way – sacrificing anything will always lead to problem in something else (either later or right now, either to some people or all people involved). Better to make no move than to make a move which does some good and some bad.

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