8 Decision-Making Strategies for Career Success (With Tips)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published May 28, 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Decision-making is important for company executives and leaders as it often determines whether a business succeeds. Decision-makers typically employ various strategies to help guide their decision-making process. If you work in a leadership role, understanding these strategies can help you reduce ambiguities, lower risks, and improve the success of your decisions. In this article, we define decision-making strategies, explain eight of these strategies, and provide tips on how to make better decisions.

What are decision-making strategies?

Decision-making strategies are the different styles and approaches that people use when making important decisions. Business executives, leaders, and managers primarily use these strategies as frameworks when navigating different business situations to address their specific needs and requirements. Making accurate decisions for any business or organization can be crucial as it affects overall performance. It can impact the productivity of teams and influence a company's progress.

8 decision-making strategies

Below are eight strategies to consider when making decisions:

1. Analytical decision-making

Analytical decision-making involves using facts, logic, and data before making a rational decision. A leader examines different information and makes various observations to ensure the accuracy of the decision and prevent unintended consequences. In this strategy, the decision-maker has a high tolerance for ambiguity, which means they're generally open to unclear or unpredictable situations. This typically makes them adaptable and enables them to control the decision-making process.

For example, consider two financial services providers, Finances and Trust and Green Wall. Finances and Trust is discussing plans to acquire its rival, Green Wall. Management asks the head of the investment banking department to research the profitability of this decision. The investment team uses the yearly financial statements of Green Wall to understand its present financial status and also uses analytics from Green Wall's listings on the stock exchange to evaluate its growth trajectory. They then determine how this might affect overall profit margins and contribute positively to Finances and Trust.

Related: Why Critical Thinking Is Important At Work

2. Command decision-making

Command decision-making occurs when a leader makes a decision without receiving input or ideas from team members or other stakeholders. Some leaders may prefer this authoritative approach because it's fast and direct, which is helpful in urgent and time-sensitive situations. It also helps to provide a clear sense of direction to team members in fast-paced work environments. It's important to analyze the situation thoroughly before applying this approach, as it doesn't consider alternative strategies.

For example, the manager of a hairdressing salon creates a weekly work schedule for team members to indicate their shifts. A strong understanding of every member's role and skill set means the manager can decide when and where they work. The manager updates this bulletin weekly and places it on an information board so that every member can see the updated schedule.

3. Consultative decision-making

In consultative decision-making, a leader usually organizes a meeting to receive input from their team members about a situation but ultimately makes the decision alone. This option may take longer than other methods because a leader often waits for additional ideas before making a decision. Some benefits of this method incluse:

  • It can make decisions less risky due to input from various individuals.

  • It can increase understanding of the situation due to listening to the perspectives of a diverse group of people.

  • It may increase trust because team members feel that their opinions matter when they contribute to a decision.

  • It can improve the quality of service a business provides by acting on feedback from clients, vendors, and industry experts.

For example, a restaurant chain owner wants to expand their restaurant's operations by opening branches in three different provinces. They consult with their team members who help research the provinces where there's a significant need for the restaurant's service and competition is minimal. The owner listens to these ideas and sends out surveys to consumers in the target locations but ultimately makes the decision alone.

4. Vote decision-making

Vote decision-making typically involves a leader presenting their teams with one or more proposals and allowing them to express their support or opposition to them. When presenting a team with proposals, it's important to ensure that you give them all the necessary background information so that they have a clear idea of the purpose of their votes. It can be an effective method of gathering opinions from many people without spending long periods in discussions. Voting is a helpful way of making decisions that affect the whole team as it distributes responsibility equally. The benefits of decision-making by voting are:

  • It distributes responsibility among team members equally so that everyone receives praise if the decision is successful and shares blame if it's not.

  • It provides a quick way to make decisions.

  • It gives every member an equal decision-making opportunity.

  • It can save time.

For example, a fast-moving consumer goods company wants to increase marketing efforts to sell more goods, so they ask the marketing department to develop ideas. The team lead pitches three ideas to the team and asks them to vote for the idea that might generate the required profit. Each member votes for their preferred idea, and they present the one with the highest number of votes to the manager.

5. Collaborative decision-making

Collaborative or group decision-making is like consultative decision-making, as both involve listening to the opinions and ideas of others to make decisions. While the leader ultimately makes the decision alone in consultative decision-making, in collaborative decision-making, the choice is collective and doesn't depend on any single team member. Various factors influence collaborative decisions, including group relationships, group behaviours, and role distribution. It has many advantages, including:

  • It builds team cohesion due to the team making a decision as a unit.

  • It makes the entire team responsible for the success of the decision.

  • It builds trust among members, which can improve workplace productivity.

  • It provides a more diverse perspective that can help create a more objective and balanced decision.

For example, a marketing agency plans to develop a television campaign for one of its clients. The team lead and their team discuss and review potential ideas. After considering the benefits of each idea, they collaboratively choose the three with the largest profit potential. The team lead then presents these options to the client to determine which they prefer.

6. Availability heuristic decision-making

Availability heuristic decision-making is when you make decisions based on recent experiences or memories. It provides a quick way to make decisions and can be effective in ambiguous situations. The benefits of availability heuristic decision-making are:

  • It's a quick and easy method of making choices.

  • It draws ideas from previous experiences to determine the best decisions by avoiding past mistakes.

  • It provides a way to navigate unclear situations.

For example, a clothing retailer receives a new line of clothes to promote via social media. When trying to schedule a post for the clothes, they study previous posts and realize that they get more reactions on Saturdays. The retailer then decides to schedule this post for Saturday to increase interaction on social media.

Related: How to Be An Effective Decision Maker (With Steps and Tips)

7. Single feature decision-making

Using this technique, you base your decision-making on only one feature out of numerous possibilities. When applying this method, ensure you analyze the situation thoroughly so you choose the most important feature. This approach is typically effective when the decision is relatively simple and the time to make the decision is short. The benefits of this strategy are:

  • It helps you to focus on the most crucial feature of a decision while overlooking less important details.

  • It provides a quick way to make decisions in a short amount of time.

For example, a plumber intends to replace a 120-litre water heater for a client. The client relies on the plumber's judgment about other water heater features, providing it costs $1,000 or less. The plumber then reviews the 120-litre water heaters their company has and chooses the one that costs less than $1,000 to install.

Related: How to Make a Difficult Decision in 8 Simple Steps

8. Additive decision-making

An additive decision-making strategy involves considering all the important features of your decision, then evaluating each option systematically. It's useful for complex decisions that have many options. To apply the technique, first list all the features you want to consider. Then, rate each feature based on how important they are to you. You can then analyze the results to determine a preferred option. This method is effective when deciding about a challenging situation that's not time-sensitive or urgent. Some of its benefits are:

  • It's helpful in making decisions amid many options.

  • A decision may have a higher chance of success due to only considering the best features.

For example, a freelance photographer decides to replace their damaged camera. To choose the best camera for their photography, they make a list of the features that are most important to them. They then rank their top three cameras to determine which contains the most listed features. Ultimately, they purchase the one that ranks highest and contains the most important features.

Related: What Are Decision-Making Skills and How to Improve Them

Tips for making better decisions

Decision-making is one of the main elements of management. Being an effective leader requires you to evaluate various decisions and analyze multiple situations. Popular tips that may help you improve the quality of your decisions are:

  • Study the situation thoroughly.

  • Develop action plans.

  • Create different alternatives.

  • Evaluate the action plan.

  • Communicate decisions where necessary.

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