Making Tough Decisions
By Gail Doby, ASID
CVO and Co-Founder of Gail Doby Coaching & Consulting
Being the boss is not always the greatest job in the world, especially when it comes to having to make the tough calls. They often are stressful and can generate a lot of bad feelings you’d rather not deal with. Still, the worst thing you can do is try to avoid them. Like other obstacles you encounter in your business, the best way to deal with tough decisions is to make a plan and then act on it.
The hardest thing about tough decisions usually is managing the emotions involved. Even when you know you’re facing a situation that’s bad for your business — say, having to cut loose a bad client or fire a dysfunctional employee — the potential blowback can be a strain. You can help to minimize that, or maybe even avoid it altogether, by setting the tone of the conversation. Prepare ahead of time the list of reasons for your decision and what you will say to broach the subject with the client or employee. During the conversation, stay calm, present your reasons clearly and firmly, and don’t accuse or blame the other party. Be respectful. Focus on the facts, not on the personalities involved. Allow the other person to have their say, then reaffirm your decision. Don’t apologize or have regrets for doing what you know is right.
Have Faith In Your Plan
Sometimes decisions are hard because we are ambivalent about them. For instance, you may be tempted to work with a client you know doesn’t fit your ideal client profile or whom you suspect will be difficult to work with. Maybe you haven’t had any new business for a while, which can make the decision even tougher. Here again, you have to have faith in your plan — in this case, your business plan. Rather than accept a job you don’t really want, consider what else you could be doing to attract the kind of client you do want. If you’re still undecided, give it the “cold light of day” test. Dispassionately weigh the pros and cons of working with this client, not just the project itself, but also the impact it is likely to have on your business (and your psyche) as a whole. Most likely, you’ll realize it’s not worth it and have an easier time saying no.
In the end, the ability to make tough decisions comes down to having confidence in your good judgment and trusting that in the long run things will work out for the best. Once you’ve made your decision, don’t dwell on it. Do what you need to do, and move on.