There Are 7 Types of Decision Making. Which One Is Best For You?

Nothing happens in business until someone makes a decision. These days, with the market moving at warp speeds, the timeliness of decision making is also critical. What might have been the right decision yesterday, may be the wrong decision tomorrow.

Yet one of the most common complaints I hear as an advisor to businesses is that the decision process is arbitrary or broken.

The challenge is that everyone, including the experts, seem to have a different view of the right decision process, and when it should be used.

To put this into perspective, I found a good summary of the different levels of delegation and enablement in a recent book, Effective People Management, by Pat Wellington, who is an experienced international executive and consultant. She suggests that the level of decision delegation should be commensurate with the experience and knowledge level of both the manager and the team involved in working the issue.

If the team is very experienced, you should delegate more and move up higher on the following numerical scale for optimum decision effectiveness and speed:

1. Decide and announce the decision.

Review options in terms of objectives, priorities, timescale, and then autocratically decide on an action and inform the team of the decision. This approach will likely de-motivate experienced teams, but may be required when time is of the essence. 

I once worked for a startup CEO who used this approach, even when time to decide was not an issue. The result was a team that felt totally unappreciated, and productivity declined, to the point that our startup was no longer competitive.

2. Decide and then communicate to others.

Make the decision, and then explain the reasons and the positive benefits accruing to the team, the company, and customers.

The decision then becomes part of the team learning process, and the team’s confidence in you increases rather than decreases.

3. Present the decision and invite comments.

Present the decision along with the background.–and invite team members to ask questions and discuss the rationale. This more participative and engaging approach enables the team to appreciate the issues and implications of all options. This approach improves satisfaction.

4. “Suggest” a decision and invite discussion.

Discuss and review a provisional decision on the basis that you will evaluate their views before making the final decision. Thus, team members have some real influence over the final decision, and recognize a real contribution and appreciation of the team.

5. Present the situation for input and joint decision.

Present the options to the team. Team members are encouraged and expected to offer ideas and additional options, and discuss implications of various options. Being high-involvement and high-influence is highly motivating to every team.

6. Explain the situation and ask the team to decide.

Delegate responsibility for the decision to the team, perhaps with stated limits. You may or may not choose to be a part of the team that decides. This approach requires a mature team, and major responsibility acceptance by the team.

7. Ask the team to define the problem and also decide.

With this approach, team members identify and analyze the situation, develop resolution options, and then decide on a preferred course of action. You agree to support the decision and manage implementation. This puts the team at the strategic decision-making level.

In my experience, successful first-time entrepreneurs and startups often operate near the top of this list, while larger and more mature organizations that run effectively operate near the bottom. If I see the opposite, I often find a dysfunctional business, or at least one which may not be agile enough to compete in today’s marketplace.

What does this mean to you? You must pick your role and your company, based on your own motivations and expectations. It also means that you must be prepared to change and adapt as the organization evolves.

Are you at the right place in the right organization to be effective, satisfied, and motivated to make the decisions that need to be made?

Become a Productivity Rock Star by Tricking Your Brain

One of the greatest challenges we all face is the ever-increasing struggle to get things done. Our “to do list” are getting longer, the demands on our limited time are increasing daily and we spend much of our day juggling the mountain of communication that is directed at us, across multiple platforms. We need all the help we can get to simply feel a little more in control on a daily basis.

I think there will ultimately be a communication backlash, and we will disconnect more and more, and look for ways to avoid the growing sense of daily overwhelm and try to find some kind of harmony in a radically out of balance world, simply by remembering how to turn things off. But we’ve got a long way to go before we are brave enough to do that. So what can we do in the meantime?

For me, I need to feel that I’m in control and making progress from the start of the day. Most of the time, I feel out of control and like I’m not making progress from the minute I get out of bed. I’ve started doing something really simple to try and trick my brain into believing I’m a productivity and progress rock star. I make a point of putting between five and ten things on my “to do list” that are really easy to complete. And that in all likelihood I will do them, simply because they are a part of my daily routine.

For example, I have “get up” as the first item on my list. Now I don’t have any trouble getting out of bed, I never have. But I love looking at my “to do list” and putting a tick next to the first item. From there I might get a little more adventurous and realistic and put something like “check my calendar for the day’s activities”. That’s another easy one to check. Then I might put something like “determine my mood for the day”. This is where I decide how I’m going to act and feel today. You get the drift. These are really easy things to do and I can rattle through ten of them in about ten minutes (if not less).

Having between five and ten of these types of daily takes lets me look at my “to do list” early in the morning and enjoy the satisfaction of ticking off a pile of things, which then makes my brain happy because it feels like we are making progress. I don’t care that some of the tasks are ridiculous, like “get out of bed”, as far as I’m concerned I’m still making progress.

This in turn gives me a sense of satisfaction early in the day and it also helps me to build momentum. It’s 8am and I’m powering through my “to do list”. I feel positive, productive and satisfied. I find that by starting the day like this, the mood stays with me the entire day and I actually do get a lot more done, and it feels a lot more effortless.

I believe that we need to do whatever we can to win the war on productivity and overwhelm on a daily basis. If we have to trick our brain to do that, so be it. We need to enlist the help of whatever techniques we can and this certainly works for me. Maybe, just maybe, it will work for you. If you can trick your brain into thinking that you are a productivity rock star you might just become one.

This Self-Sabotaging Behavior Slows Your Growth. Do These 5 Things Instead

We all have our procrastination horror stories. Mine almost kept me from graduating college.

It was my senior year. For my marketing final, my group had to come up with a new branding strategy for Acura. We used market data, surveys, and consumer reviews to reposition and recast the brand.

It was my responsibility to compile everyone’s individual reports into a paper and design a presentation for our exam. I didn’t think it would be that intensive, so I waited until the night before. Big mistake.

As I finished the 20-page research paper and put the final touches on the presentation, my computer crashed. Evidently, you can’t listen to music, run PowerPoint, edit in Word and check Facebook simultaneously.

My hard drive was fried. It was 11:00 P.M. the night before the big presentation–and the final was worth 50 percent of our grade.

I threw on a pot of coffee and started from scratch. Luckily, I had a lot of the work memorized (having just spent four hours working on it), previously worked for Acura as a sales consultant, and had a supportive girlfriend (now wife) who’s a great writer.

Long story short: We got an “A,” I never told my group what happened, and I survived my first panic attack.

I got lucky. 

From that moment on, I swore that I would never procrastinate again–until the next time. I don’t know if it’s the rush of meeting a deadline at the final hour or undiagnosed ADHD, but I just can’t seem to get a handle on procrastination.

I was reminded of this after reading Jen Sincero’s book, You are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life. The New York Times bestseller has some great advice on beating self-sabotaging behaviors. Procrastination made the list.

In the book, Sincero offers five tried-and-true pieces of advice:

1. Remember that done is better than perfect. 

I’m not a perfectionist. I’d rather get to the point of “good” and just do it. I know that freaks some people out, but I’ve realized that “perfect” is an ever-receding horizon.

If you’re waiting for something to be flawless before you roll it out, then you’ll never do it. I don’t know who said it first, but there’s truth in the saying, “Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good.” 

Instead, Sincero encourages readers to take the plunge and just get started:

“There’s no better way to get things done than to already be rolling along–momentum is a wonderful thing, not to mention highly underrated, so get off your a** and get started. NOW!”

2. Notice where you stop. 

We all have our momentum killers. Television, social media, and food are three of mine.

Right as I’m getting into the grove, I blow it by adverting my attention to something counterproductive. Or, I intentionally self-sabotage because I don’t want to start something I know is going to take time–like research or reading. 

Sincero advises her clients to pinpoint the exact moment before they say “screw it” and procrastinate. Once you know the source, you can manage it. 

I coax myself into researching by eliminating distractions and time-chunking. I force myself to spend 20 minutes researching then reward myself with a break. So far, it’s worked surprisingly well.

3. Make a bet with someone mean. 

“Mean” refers to someone who will hold you to it. They can’t let you slide–no matter the excuse.

Having an accountability partner has been incredibly effective for me. Letting myself down is one thing, but the fear and embarrassment of disappointing someone else scares me straight.

Sincero also suggests you bet something painful to lose, like money. Fear of failure and fear of losing something you care about can do wonders for your self-discipline.

4. Own it and work with it.

Some of us will always wait until the last available minute. If that’s you, Sincero says own it: “Just go to the damn beach already, have a cocktail, and when the pressure’s on, get down to business.” Quit wasting precious time pretending that you’re going to do something when you know it won’t happen. 

I’ve ducked out of too many opportunities acting like I was going to get something done only to waste the entire day because my fear of missing out prevented me from focusing. I’ve stopped kidding myself. Now, I enjoy the moment and buckle down when I need to.

5. Love yourself. 

You may be a procrastinator. That doesn’t mean you’re a lost cause. Embrace your weaknesses, check your pride and ask others for help. Denying our vulnerabilities gives them power.

Eventually, procrastinating will catch up to you. Don’t sabotage yourself. Learn what causes you to dilly-dally and implement strategies to prevent it. Your future successful self will thank you. 

Studies Found Employees Are More Productive if They’re Allowed to Watch ‘March Madness’ on Company Time

Every year at this time, it’s bound to happen. People congregate around cubicles and break rooms during business hours to fill out brackets for the men’s NCAA Tournament — an annual ritual known as March Madness.

Grown men and women, responsible and productive employees even, will use company time to take part in office pools, watch games, check scores, and find other distracting interludes that disrupt flow and productivity. 

The severity of this can’t be ignored. Recent research by staffing firm OfficeTeam found the average worker spends 25.5 minutes on March Madness-related activities during the 15 workdays of the tournament. That means that by the end of the event, employees blow over six hours of work time fixated on watching games or checking scores online.

And bosses should let them

While it’s nearly impossible for managers to prevent their employees from sneaking a peek at the games, evidence suggests that those managers that exercise a fair amount of trust in their workers enough to let them watch hoops will gain an edge in the long run.

Why employees should participate in March Madness activities.

According to the OfficeTeam study, nearly half of professionals (46 percent) celebrate sporting events like March Madness at work, and another third (33 percent) may not watch but will take part in the office ritual. In total, about 62 percent of workers said they check scores while at the office.

“While employers may worry about events like March Madness being a distraction in the office, allowing workers to enjoy sports-related activities for even a few minutes can be time well spent,” said Brandi Britton, a district president for OfficeTeam. 

For stricter companies worried about their bottom line, the message seems is clear: Your workers are going to watch games one way or another, so you might as well embrace the idea and let them.

Think of it like this: Sporting events like March Madness can be opportunities for employees to develop relationships and get to know one another’s personal interests and hobbies, not just as coworkers. If managers are smart and see the potential, this is how you build community for competitive advantage. As a result, the closer a team gets outside of normal work-related activities, the higher the chances they will produce and collaborate better during crunch time at work.

According to Britton, “Staff will appreciate the opportunity to bond with colleagues and return to their desks rejuvenated.”

While it’s true many companies may experience a productivity dip during March Madness, more studies affirm the business-related payoffs.

One survey conducted by employee-time-management app TSheets found that more than two-thirds of employees (68 percent) said watching games increases or has no affect on their productivity.

Another survey by Randstad U.S. found that 89 percent of employees said participating in March Madness activities like office pools “help build better team camaraderie” and boosts morale. Additionally, 79 percent of employees agree that it “greatly improves their levels of engagement at work.” Finally, in the same study, 73 percent of workers agree they look forward to going to work more when they participate in office pools.

“While many employers fear a loss of productivity due to the distraction of office pools during the college basketball tournament season, our findings suggest the potential short-term distraction in the office may actually be a win for employee morale, engagement and satisfaction in the long-term,” says Jim Link, chief human resource officer at Randstad North America. 

Bringing it home.

Less tolerant and micro-managed workplaces may experience the payoffs discussed, but only after a hard prerequisite: Releasing control and treating employees like mature adults who will take care of business post-tournament. 

“Companies should trust employees to manage their time. Good workers still get their projects done, even if they take occasional breaks,” says OfficeTeam’s Brandi Britton.

Lacking motivation? Here’s How to Pull Yourself Out of a Slump

Whether you’re feeling blue, or not as productive as you want to be, pulling yourself out of a slump will necessitate doing some things differently. Here are some ideas on where to start.

1. Change your scene.

For instance, you could take your laptop to an independent, artistic coffee shop and find inspiration from new sights, sounds and smells, without the people you normally converse with in the office.

2. Hang out with new people.

To do it, join something. Like outdoorsy pursuits? Find a class to take at your local REI. Meetup lists book clubs all around the country looking for new members. And certainly your local gym offers classes full of people you could get to know.

3. Find a mentor.

It’s as simple as identifying someone successful in your industry and merely asking. Some of these people speak at conferences, which is a great opportunity for approaching them. Remember, though, the person is likely busy so you may have to be persistent and keep asking if you don’t get an immediate response.

4. Do something scary.

Improv acting is one hobby many people find daunting. Yet several successful executives have shared with me how beneficial practicing this skill has been for them. For one thing, it teaches a person how to effectively deal with uncertainty, essentially rolling with the punches which is certainly a valuable life skill.

5. Set an ambitious fitness goal for yourself.

Show me someone who’s in a slump, and I’ll bet the person isn’t as active as he or she could be. Never done a 5K or half marathon? This time of the year is the perfect time to start training.

6. Do something good in the world.

Serving others is a magical elixir. It’s hard to fixate on what you’re not accomplishing when you’re focused on helping another human being.

7. Try bullet journaling.

It’s a bit of a craze right now, but essentially, it’s just a regular paper notebook in which you create your own planner, to-do list, journal, and sketchbook. Jessica Stillman penned a great piece which discusses the scientific benefits of keeping all your stuff written down using old-fashioned pen and paper.

8. Have more sex.

According to a study conducted at Oregon State University, people who have more sex are also more productive at work. It’s because having sex releases dopamine and oxytocin in the brain, mood elevating chemicals which work well into the next day, resulting in more sustained engagement on the job.

The 3 Biggest Secrets to Staying Productive Without Risking Burnout

What are some ways you stay focused and productive without getting burnt out? originally appeared on Quorathe place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world.

Answer by Nela Canovic, growth mindset hacker and Silicon Valley entrepreneur, on Quora:

Make smart choices about how you spend your day, from managing time like a pro to maxing out your brain power and energy reserves.

Try these 3 tips that can help you make smart choices about your day.

Tip #1. Become the master of your time.

Hey, if you’re so busy that you never seem to find the time to finish up everything you need to do, you’re not alone. That’s all of us. Chances are, the older we get, the faster those tasks and responsibilities will be coming our way. So the key is not in avoidingthem (although it’s normal to procrastinate from time to time!), but in managing them better. The best way to go about this is to become an expert at time management. This means you train yourself to be aware of how much time goes into which activity, so that you can make real progress towards your goals, instead of just keeping busy but not having all that work amount to anything of value. So what does that look like? Here are a few techniques that can help you master your time and avoid that feeling of burnout at the end of each day:

  • Keep a detailed calendar and schedule not just for school or work activities, but also for your personal life. If you really want to have time for yourself, you will have to schedule it into your day.
  • Use a time management technique such as the Pomodoro to maintain focus when working on a task. Think of it as a timer that divides up your work to make it easier to maintain focus.
  • Block off times when you don’t want to be disturbed. This means actively making yourself unavailable so that you can work on top priority items. It can be switching your phone to Airplane mode, leaving email check-ins for later, setting expectations with others that you’ll be busy and won’t be available for meetings and conversations, and avoiding (or turning off) anything else that may be a distraction when you need to concentrate: TV, news, radio, etc.
  • Delegate or outsource tasks that you don’t need to do when you’re extremely busy, whenever possible. This applies to household chores (which you can share with family members), child care, administrative tasks, shopping for groceries, or giving your car an oil change. Sometimes we’re so wrapped up in finishing and checking items off our list that we don’t ask ourselves if it may be a better idea to lessen the burden by asking for help. When you need more time, asking for assistance is a smart thing to do, and you’ll feel that it frees you up to do that most important work of the day.

Tip #2. Tap into your brain power.

You may think you know everything about how your brain works, from the way you study to how you process information during a late-night session of researching a topic for work. But did you know that our brains function differently at certain times of day? It’s all about tuning into your circadian rhythm (or in simpler terms, your biological clock), so that you can maximize your energy to do things earlier or later, instead of feeling exhausted because some things take too long to do. So what does that look like on a typical day for most people?

  • Mornings are typically a quiet time before things get busy, so it might be a good idea to do your deep work first, i.e. work that requires a lot of concentration. Some scientists call this the brain’s peak performance time, and it’s roughly 2-4 hours after we wake up (for example, if you wake up at 6, your peak times are between 8 and 10 a.m.). This time is often ideal for the analytical brain to perform the most complex tasks such as reading new material, studying, or problem-solving.
  • Afternoons are great for collaborating. This covers the 12-5 p.m. time range, including a lunch break and the few hours afterwards, when people are more likely to socialize. That doesn’t necessarily mean it’s time to organize a party in the middle of the day (although there certainly are situations that call for it!), but it could mean interacting with your network in some way. This can be a good time of day to schedule meetings, brainstorm ideas with coworkers, or work with classmates on group projects.
  • Evenings, usually any time after 6 p.m., are typically the time of day when the brain slows down and we don’t have to worry about meeting deadlines and checking items off to-do lists, so there’s plenty of space for creative thinking. Evenings are an excellent time to strategize, whether that means thinking about big goals (where you’d like to be a year or two from now in your personal or professional development, for example) or brainstorming next steps you need to take in order to reach those goals. This time is also an excellent opportunity for creating and contemplating the big picture of your life.

Tip #3. Stay energized.

The best way to maintain steady levels of energy throughout the day is to do at least some form of physical exercise. Why is this so important? Exercise is beneficial not only for improving your physical health (by boosting circulation, building muscle, and keeping your heart in optimal shape), but it also improves the brain’s cognitive performance, problem solving ability, and even strengthens long-term memory. But what if you’re so busy you don’t have time to work out? That’s OK too, because physical exercise can be short, so you don’t need to do three hours at the gym to keep a workout routine. It can be anything from 10-30 minutes. Here are a few ideas on what’s easy to work into your day that can give you the energy boost you need to be more productive:

  • a 15-minute morning yoga routine
  • a set of hindu pushups, sun salutation poses, lunges and squats
  • a 20-minute HIIT training session
  • a 30-minute run or bike ride
  • a quick power walk through the neighborhood

This question originally appeared on Quora – the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world. You can follow Quora on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+. More questions:

You’re Probably Not as Busy as You Say You Are. Here’s How to Be Truly Productive

Are you busy?”

When someone asks you that question, you probably nod your head in a fervent “yes” without even thinking. You probably feel like you never have extra time to do the things you really want to do.

But let me ask you something: Are you actually being productive?

Busy people and productive people are not the same. You can be busy without being productive, and you can be highly productive while still having plenty of time for other things.

So the question you have to ask yourself is: What are you actually busy doing? And is that busy work as goal-oriented as it could be?

Too often, people mistake activity for productivity.

They end up measuring their effectiveness by how busy they are. The more sweat involved, the more we’re getting done.

As a former workaholic, I can tell you that’s far from the truth.

Consider this classic physics example of “work.” A man spends all day pushing against a boulder, expelling all of his effort, all of his strength, but the boulder doesn’t move. Is any work actually being done? No, he doesn’t, because the boulder has to change position for it to count as work.

That’s why you need to assess your own work and make sure that all the effort you’re expending is going into work that’s proactive, and more importantly, productive.

The best way to begin is by breaking down goals into bite-sized chunks.

When you think about your next goal, think about the incremental steps you need to accomplish that goal. This will allow you to minimize the grand scale of your efforts and focus on just one piece at a time.

Say your goal is to build a house. You wouldn’t work on part of the basement, then the roof, a few walls, then the plumbing. No, you’d build it in stages. You lay the foundation. You build the framework. You install the plumbing before you put up the walls. You build and you accomplish an incremental piece of the entire house.

The overall goal of building a house may seem overwhelming. But as you break it down into incremental steps, it becomes attainable.

And after the last coat of paint has dried, you’re able to stand back, admire your work and say, “Wow, I just built a house!”

You don’t even have to wait until everything is done to begin getting value from your home. Once you have finished the first bedroom and bathroom, you could stay there while you finish building out the other rooms and installing appliances. You approach the process incrementally.

Working toward your goals can use the same process.

But in order to begin making progress, you need to have your goals clearly defined.

A dream written down is a goal. A goal broken down into steps is a plan–but you have to back up that plan with action to make it a reality. Just like building a house, clear blueprints need to exist in order for all of those small pieces to come together. The vision must be clear.

One of the best ways to increase your productivity and work in the right direction? Slow down to speed up.

Getting things right in the beginning will save you time on damage control in the long run. First, look at the big picture. As that picture becomes clear, so will the incremental steps necessary to paint that picture.

But you don’t want to treat this process like a freight train, endlessly barreling forward from point A to B to C. That mentality leads to a one-track mind, which is not the most productive mindset to have when trying to reach your ultimate goals. You’ll expel too much energy on one task. It’s usually more beneficial to accomplish smaller tasks in order to work toward that main task.

You must be able to pivot. When you take a holistic view of your life and visualize how your actions align with the top three to four things that really matter, we call this Personal Agility. It’s a simple framework that helps you prioritize what’s most important, do more of what matters, and recognize when to do less of things that don’t.

Prioritize the incremental steps to satisfy the larger goal.

Being flexible and pivoting is what allows you to move between tasks without missing a step. After all, if everything matters, then nothing matters.

Personally, I take on one goal per day. Which means I achieve 30 goals in one month and 365 goals in one year.

This is how you build your house–by accomplishing one small goal at a time.

If you want to make the jump from being busy to being productive, start by taking a step back. Slow down and be more proactive, which allows you to be more productive.