How do you deal with choice stress as a manager?

Kenneth Smit editorial | 23-08-2019

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Everyone suffers from choice stress every now and then. But, for managers this can be very annoying. It can also cause poorer performance. Many managers are reluctant to make choices. They do not dare to make a decision, often because of an uneasy feeling: not having all the necessary information. We also often resort to micromanagement, because we want to be able to understand our choices in detail. This mainly occurs among managers who have specialized in a specialty before growing into a management role. We also want to keep everyone within our team and all other external stakeholders satisfied, which can also cause choice stress. In this blog we share a number of tips that we have experienced in practice and that can help you relieve your choice stress.

Are you a 'maximizer' or 'satisficer'?

When we talk about choice stress, it is important to first find out what kind of person you are. In many cases, self-knowledge is already part of the solution. We distinguish two types of people: the 'maximizers' and with 'satisficers'. Maximizers are always looking for the best solution and continue to look for it. Satisficers are satisfied with a good solution to the problem encountered, but are not looking for the best possible solution. Not surprisingly, research from Swarthmore College in California showed that satisficers are happier in life. It is important for managers to have access to a healthy dose of satisficer, otherwise making choices becomes very difficult. Of course, this does not mean that you should make unfounded decisions. A number of tips at a glance.

Accept that the perfect choice does not always exist

As difficult as it is, we must accept that the perfect choice does not always exist. Too much perfectionism can lead to eternal deliberation. Particularly in your role as a manager, it is regularly important that you make a well-considered choice based on the information you have at your disposal. That's not always perfect, deal with it.

Be informed

Delegating is and always will be difficult. When you have the feeling that you do not know or understand certain details, it gives you an unsatisfactory and stressful feeling. And yet it is an important characteristic of managers to be able to put aside their own discomfort and trust the information that others offer you. Recognize that there are specialists active in your company with more, better and more complete information. Be informed, be vulnerable.

Reduce your options

The problem with making decisions is often that the options expand as more information is available. An inverted funnel. However, the crux of making sound decisions is to reduce your options as much as possible. Determine the principles for yourself in advance and test all options against those principles. If there is not a 100% match, delete the relevant option from your list until you are left with only 1 or 2.

Dare to make decisions, choices are rarely final

As mentioned, we are often very reluctant to make the final decision; for fear of doing something wrong, or achieving something that will have a lasting negative impact. However, choices you make are rarely final or irreversible. Do not overestimate the impact of your management decisions. Dare to take the decision, even if you do not have all the information you want. In line with the increasingly popular agile project methodologies, most of your decisions can still be transformed into an agile approach if necessary.

Want to know more about our offering in the field of management training? Then take a quick look our website and/or contact us.

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