6 Science-backed Tips for Making Quality Decisions

May 28, 2021

Read now to learn about the science of decision-making through 6 research-backed tips for making quality decisions in your day-to-day.

6 Science-backed Tips for Making Quality Decisions

So, you want to learn about the science of decision making. At MentorCruise, we have six research-backed tips on making better decisions like a true leader. In the next 8 minutes, you’ll understand the importance of decision-making, what-not-to-dos, and of course, what-to-dos. By the end, you’ll go back to your team as a decision-making expert and lead the way to success.

Ready? Let’s go.

Why decision-making is important

A proper decision-making framework can change your life for the better. There’s a saying: “the quality of your life depends on the quality of your decisions.” It’s an irrefutable statement. Your poor decisions produce poor outcomes, and you suffer the consequences.

With that company that you’ve built up from the ground, a motivated community you’ve fostered, a team you’re perhaps leading, and a sea of competitors at your neck, think: can you afford to make bad-quality decisions with so much at stake?

Sh*t happens, sure. But, as a leader, as a self-motivated hustler, you must be ready to make the best decision possible at any given moment. Because in your world, the wrong decision can be catastrophic to your company and team.

The 3 main culprits for poor decision-making

Before learning how to make better decisions, it’s essential to know what makes a poor decision maker. In this section, we’ll go over three main phenomena that lead to poor decision making.

Feeling confident, or should we say cocky?

“It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.” - Mark Twain.

Having faith in yourself is swell; that’s confidence. Overconfidence, or cockiness, is terrible. When you’re _too _sure of yourself, you’re less inclined to consider valuable outside opinions when making a decision. Authority figures often have this problem. Just because you’re in charge doesn’t mean that you know best.

With an open mind and practicing humility, you can spot previously missed details, learn new things, and ultimately alter an executive decision for a better outcome. Remember, just because a particular decision worked out once doesn’t mean it will work again. Don’t be a brick wall; always critically analyze, double-check, and value opinions.

Acting out on emotions

Strong leaders don’t let their emotions get the best of them. Studies have shown that the inability to regulate feelings of anger and anxiety is often responsible for poor decision making.

Angry people tend to blame someone from the get-go, rely more on stereotypes, and are more eager to act. Our subconscious is ultimately trying to find an outlet for our frustration. These are not only toxic qualities, but they’re impulsive and unreliable approaches to decision making.

Anxious people second-guess too much, and the excessive over-thinking clouds their judgment. They tend to avoid the high-reward decisions because they’re nervous about the associated risk, fall-out, and blame.

Falling prey to the “What-the-hell” effect

Say you’re on a weight-loss journey. There’s a pizza party at work; you’re tempted, you take a slice, then another, oh what the hell, another. So much for that diet. Your colleagues then invite you for a beer in the evening; you’re supposed to hit the gym but, what the hell, you already ate pizza, you might as well keep going, right?

And so, the “what-the-hell” effect was born. Though scientists primarily researched it for assessing decisions in dieting, it’s also been associated with willpower and making decisions in other areas of life. One wrong decision often leads to another, and after the first disastrous outcome, we think less rationally, and it’s a snowball from there.

After your first screw-up, take a step back and remember it could get worse. Then, prioritize damage-control and alter your follow-up decisions around that. So, instead of going out for that beer, decide to burn those extra pizza calories at the gym with some overtime cardio.

Alright, now that you know what _not _to do, let us go over what you should do. Without further ado,

1. Crowdsource feedback, but do it with caution.

It’s always a great idea to listen to feedback from other team members before making an executive decision. It helps you gain perspective, holistically consider post-decision impacts, and ensure that you’re making everyone (mostly) happy. We’re not telling you to stop listening to others; that’s kind of what we do here at MentorCruise.

What we would advise, however, is to have boundaries. Don’t let those crowdsourced opinions and feedback turn into peer pressure. There’s a fine line. You are your person, and you need to look at things objectively when it comes to making a decision for your team and company.

The pressure of conformity often leads to a few decision-makers always speaking and little challenge of ideas from others who feel powerless and unheard. Continuing high levels of conformity develop a false sense of superiority and confidence, making executives stubborn and narrow-minded to new ideas and outside opinion when they make decisions. That’s not good.

Need unbiased, experienced-but-not-pushy feedback? Get mentoring from a trained, experienced expert & make better quality decisions for your career on MentorCruise.

2. Eliminate smaller decisions.

Did you know that you use brain juice for every decision that you make? Over time, scientists have found that making too many decisions deteriorates the quality of each decision after that. That is a phenomenon called decision fatigue. Cut down on the decisions, please.

For starters, eliminating the less significant decisions from your day-to-day, like attire and meals, are big ones. If you plan out your outfit and meals weeks or months beforehand, you’ll waste no time deciding between them. “You need to focus your decision-making energy” - Barack Obama, a man who wears only gray and blue suits.

Weed out the less significant and “automatable” decisions in your life, and either cut them out or automate them for you. You’ll be leaving more brainpower for quality executive decisions for things that matter, like the future goals for your company or team.

3. Ask your future self: “Will I regret this?”

Often while making decisions, we’re too shortsighted. We’re too worried about the consequences, the embarrassment, what it would look like to take a step in an unusual direction. Be a risk-taker and ask yourself, “will this matter in two weeks?” Or, if you’re like Bezos, get a bit more extreme and ask, “would I regret this in 80 years?” for the more significant decisions.

Usually, your answer will be no; you won’t regret it. Interviewing your future self makes a seemingly difficult decision incredibly easy to follow through. Because now you think, in the inevitable future you’re aging to, it simply won’t matter.

In fact, you make better quality decisions too when you see your senior self. Of course, the same applies vice versa. If you do feel like making the decision would scar you for life, best avoid it.

4. Use the Eisenhower Matrix.

“What is important is seldom urgent, and what is urgent is seldom important.”

–Dwight Eisenhower

In other words, when making decisions for tasks, what you _want _may not be the most important on your list, it’s only “urgent” because you _want _it to be. Instead of acting on impulse, the former 34th President of the U.S. made decisions on his tasks by allocating them to the following four classifications (usually organized in a quadrant):

  • Urgent and important (immediate tasks you should get on right away)
  • Important, but not urgent (you could do them later, but don’t forget)
  • Urgent, but not important (hand-off to a colleague/employee)
  • Neither urgent nor important (tasks to eliminate or allocate for leisure time)

“Follow your gut” is only wise if you’re already an expert.

Everyone always says follow your gut. It’s a diluted piece of advice to make the advice-giver feel less guilty if things don’t work out. The fact is that following your “gut” on a foreign topic is, quite literally, just a blind, wild guess. You might be way out of your line here with a decision relating to the programming side of your business while you’re a marketer.

However, if you’re already an expert, then the gut feeling is an amalgamation of historical patterns and expectancies for our minds to deduce potential outcomes. Through years of expert experience, you get that “gut feeling” based on your memory bank on what would be the “right” move here.

Malcolm Gladwell says in _Outliers _that you need to have roughly 10 000 hours of logged practice before qualifying as an “expert.” You can’t be an expert on everything; you lack the time. So, surround yourself with more competent people who are experts in various areas and learn from them.

From advising projects to on-the-job training, having an expert on your side will give you that competitive edge and help you stem educational and organizational shifts without slowing you down. Find the perfect mentor to help you make expert-backed decisions today on MentorCruise.

The PESTLE Analysis

Part of quality decision-making is thoroughly understanding the drivers and outcomes of your choices. The PESTLE framework reminds decision-makers to assess political, economic, social, technological, legal, and environmental factors when making an executive decision.

Getting political [P]ESTLE

In part of your decision-making process, it’s essential to consider the extent to which a government may influence the economy or your industry. A change to tax or fiscal policies and trade tariffs could prompt you to make the executive decision to restructure revenue streams, for example.

Economic factors in P[E]STLE

The performance of your nation’s economy directly impacts your business decisions and has long-term effects. For instance, you may have to make a decision to restructure your product/service pricing after a rise in inflation.

Additionally, changes in consumers ’ purchasing power and demand/supply models may prompt you to make decisions to double down on promotional offers. Other economic factors that will affect your business-related decisions are:

  • Interest rates
  • foreign exchange rates
  • economic growth patterns
  • FDI (foreign direct investment)

Social factors in PE[S]TLE

You will find that the marketing-related decisions in your company are primarily dependent on social factors. We’re talking about acting on information from demographics, population analytics, cultural and season trends.

So, let’s say Christmas is around the corner, and like the generous individual you are, you decide to throw in a special holiday discount (anything to get you on that nice list, eh?).

Technological factors in PES[T]LE

Innovation, gotta love it. Automation, research and development, and overall advancement in technology could change the industry’s operations and the market favorably or unfavorably–depending on if you’re the innovator.

Decision-making in this sector is critically important because it could mean life or death in the age of innovation. The old-timers get left behind if they don’t move fast. That could be you. Don’t believe us? Two words: Uber. Amazon.

Legal factors include laws both inside a company and out. A country may have set laws like consumer and labor laws that govern business activity, and your company may also have specific policies, like safety standards, to uphold. Your decision-making process should consider both of these angles before strategizing in light of legislation.

Environmental factors in PESTL[E]

Last but not least, your decision-making process should partly be influenced by an analysis of the surrounding environment. Environmental factors are especially important if you’re in the business of tourism, farming, agriculture, and whatnot.

When decision making on company operations or next steps, consider the climate, frequency of natural disasters, geographical location, global changes in temperature, and environmental offsets. There are also a growing number of tax incentives and business grants for companies moving toward more sustainable operations.

Become a decision-making prodigy under the wing of experts

You’re done! Congratulations, you’re now well-informed on the science of decision-making and ready to make decisions like a true leader. It won’t be easy, but being a decision-maker never is. We wish we could yell at you in between the lines to help, but we can’t.

Luckily, we know some big-time professionals from any industry who’d love to yell at you–to challenge you to be at your best and provide positive and accessible support. Well, that’s how one of our mentees, Ryan, described it as anyway.

You can book an appointment for an introductory call session in minutes to make sure you find the right mentor because once you do, you could reach your goals in about three months.

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