Article (September-2017)


Styles of decision making

Chinmay Kumar Podder

Designation : -   HR Consultant and Corporate Trainer

Organization : -  Fellow AIMA, Fellow NIPM, Fellow ISTD, HR Consultant and Corporate Trainer, Cuttack


365475 Total View        

Decision making as it is commonly understood is to choose the best alternatives available. It is undoubtedly both an art and a science. A right and timely decision could take an organization to dizzy heights of success and a wrong decision may convert an economically viable unit into a sick one. The question that arises is how to choose the best alternative - the word 'best' however, having a relative connotation differing from person to person. Is the decision always analytical?....Does it always stand the test of logic and rationality?.....Is it by intuition?...We will examine here the various styles of decision making and analyse to what extent the decisions taken are realistic. Based on my experience in the past, I am inclined to classify decision makers under the following broad categories:-
Go by past practices
We find a category of managers who are reluctant to face change. They are comfortable with existing practices and are afraid to deviate from it. They are not analytical and prefer to look back at practices followed by their predecessors, irrespective of their academic brilliance and further concretising them into an established custom.
Prevailing practices elsewhere is the guiding factor
They are a brand of decision makers who always refer to practices followed elsewhere, may be neighboring industries, or a sister concern, for taking any decision. To them neither the financial implication nor any other implication is the relevant factor. They also do not go by any analytical method, logic or rationality.
Only under pressure
They are those decision makers who take decisions only when they are under pressure. Until and unless they are pressurized, they are reluctant to take any sort of decision. The extent of pressure also influences the magnitude of decision. Pressure can be internal or external, social or political.
Follow path of least resistance
Here is a category of decision makers who want to be goody - goody with everybody. They try to please everyone because they cannot absorb any kind of pressure. They want to be clean by following a path of least resistance. They try to avoid any kind of confrontation. They do not even try to oppose any kind of pressure, no matter how expensive it proves to the institution. Such decision makers not only prove to be expensive but disastrous to the institution. They are afraid to assert their point of view for one or the other reason.
There is a category of managers who believe in patchwork and prefer to take adhoc decision. They do not take a decision with a long term perspective. They try to win over a situation and get rid of the problem soon. They neither have the patience nor the ability to understand the problem in depth. For example a manager trying to suppress a kind of resistance from the employees by considering part demand of the employees and keeping other issues hanging.
Self Interest involved
The decisions of these managers are influenced by the interest involved either directly or indirectly. For example, it is often seen that a promotion list is enlarged to accommodate a particular person. Unless their own interests are involved, they are normally inclined to take negative view and try to keep things lingering on. Many a time the decision to execute work departmentally or through contractors is not influenced by factors like cost effectiveness, skill availability or timely completion of the job etc. but by extraneous considerations.
Only when repeatedly approached
We find a category of managers who take decision only when repeatedly approached. As long as they are not approached, they do not want to touch the issue. They are reluctant to dispose off the case in a routine manner. They want people to approach them time and again. The intention is to convey the message that they have obliged and favoured others by their decisions.
Only with Aides
They belong to a category of managers who are guided by their advisors for taking decisions. The advisors may be peers, subordinates or consultants. They will seldom apply their own will and wisdom to take a decision, and feel shaky to take any decision independently.
They are the kind of managers who do believe in participative style and take decisions when there is a broad consensus. These managers do not take decisions unless a consensus emerges, and till such time the issue remains pending.
These decision makers consider that they are independently capable of taking any decision. They hesitate to consult others or involve others in their decision making process. They are not bothered whether the outcome of the decision is right or wrong. They try to impose their own whims and fancies. 
No decision at all
Again we find a category of decision makers who prefer not to take any decisions at all. Not to take any decision is their decision. They try to keep on lingering things with a belief that time itself will either kill the problem, solve the problem or put an end to the problem.  They avoid taking any decisions, as they have least confidence in themselves.
Spiritually guided
Staying close to God or spiritual beliefs and listening carefully for an inner voice of direction is the process employed by these individuals. Prayer, solitude and not retreat are their key methods of decision making. Before any major decision is taken, they take time to stay away from all others, stop and meditate or pray about how to move forward. Until they have a peaceful resolve they will not decide.
Decision by intuition
They are a category of people who prefer to take decisions by their intuition. They go by the dictate of their sub - conscious mind. Even though there is lot of flaw in taking decision by intuition, those people with long years of experience have proved decisions taken by gut feeling are quite often correct. Decision is faster and it is definitely better than taking no decisions at all.
These decision makers are sadistic. They take decisions contrary to advisors and policies of the enterprise. These people usually have some problem in their personal life, which distinctly manifests in their decision making. Organisation has to tolerate such people as long as they have power and authority to exert. Once they are out of the chair, there is no one to care and respect them. Organization sadly suffers with such people. There have been many such notable incidents where the decisions made on the part of the top tier decision makers have ruined the organsiation.
Data Driven
Hard data, especially figures are the basis of decision making of these individuals. They take time to research, organize and consider before moving forward. The more the information they are able to compile, the better is their decision making. Figure, research and reason guide what they do and how they do.
Real analytical ones
In a real sense, we find very few people whose decisions stand the test of logic and rationality and an outcome of in depth study of the manifold implications associated with it. A manager is paid for his decisions only, decisions that make an organization an enterprising one, that bring innovation and creativity and make an organization cost effective, viable and sustainable.

Understanding how to make decisions is the starting point to make a more advanced decision in the future. One's unique decision making style speaks of your greatest weakness. This article hopes to inculcate into the managers the habit to surround themselves with others that will make decisions more informed and thoughtful choice for moments of tension and transition. When we understand our style of decision making better, we are given the opportunity to unite others from others unique perspectives into our process.

This classification of managers has been made basically with the purpose of enabling the reader managers to make an appraisal/assessment of themselves and bring in them the changes required to match with the demands of time.