Assess Your Own Strengths as a Decision Maker
by Dr. Marilyn Manning
To be an effective problem solver, you need the self-confidence to make decisions, and to feel comfortable with the risks involved in all decision-making. Doubt about your own abilities can interfere with your efforts to solve problems and to act as a leader who can guide a group of people toward sound decisions. It’s all too easy to remember the mistakes we’ve made—such as the misjudgments that seem so obvious in hindsight—and to let them overshadow our successes.
Nothing boosts self-confidence like an awareness of our personal and professional strengths and abilities. Focus on a recent success to help you to accurately evaluate your problem-solving skills.
Select a recent problem you have solved or a recent decision you have made on the job. Be sure your choice is one you are proud to recall! Write a brief, factual description of the event at the top of a fresh sheet of paper, i.e. I devised a new system for handling mail distribution in the office. Under this statement, write the answers to each of the following questions, which are designed to reveal both your strengths and weaknesses as a decision maker:
- Why am I proud to claim this particular decision as an accomplishment?
the way I handled the problem during the two weeks it took to solve it?
my efforts to guide the group toward consensus?
the success of the new system?
- What resources did I use to gather information? (Examples: brainstorming with staff, consulting experts outside your department or company, reports on previous attempts to solve this problem).
- How did I share the problem-solving process with those who would be affected by the decision?
- What process did I use to analyze and evaluate the accumulated information?
- What alternatives presented themselves after the analytic process?
- How did I choose to evaluate each of these alternatives?
- What were my criteria for selecting the one alternative we put into effect?
- What steps did I take when introducing the new system to staff?
- Have I received primarily positive or negative feedback concerning my decision?
- What compliments or suggestions for improvement have I heard?
- Is there anything about this problem-solving process that I wish I had done differently?
- Which of my decision-making skills did I use most adeptly with this project? Which skills did I underplay? Why?
By analyzing your successes in this way, you will begin to see an emerging pattern of problem-solving strategies that you have used. What will this pattern tell you? That your success isn’t just good luck, but the result of knowledge, experience, and good planning. Whenever you begin to doubt your decision-making ability, do this exercise again, using another of your “success stories.”