Arghhh!!! It drives me crazy sometimes when people are so afraid of what might happen that they can’t make a decision. It’s especially frustrating when I’m the indecisive one. Indecisive leaders drive employees crazy. Just make a decision, any decision. A bad decision is better than none at all. At least we’re moving in some direction and a bad decision can be made better, but no decision is something we’re stuck with.
Now, before I go too far and you think that I’m somehow immune to this, I’m not. I have to confess that I’ve been there too, frozen and unwilling or unable to move forward. I understand the fear. It’s real and the consequences of making the wrong decision can hurt. But, I haven’t met a leader who, after terminating a problem employee or exiting a losing market, didn’t say: “I wish I would have done this sooner.” So, if you’re stuck and don’t know what to do, here are a few ideas that work for me. They may work for you too.
Shut the company down? How many times have we put off replacing a poor performer out of fear of what would happen when they are gone? Maybe we feared the loss of a customer, uncertainty over how we’d get by without them, or how we’d pick up their workload. I know I’ve asked myself these questions. You’d think the company couldn’t run without them. And how many of us have had that employee or others quit at the worst time. All of us have. So what did we do? We didn’t shut down the company when they quit. No. We figured out how to move forward without the employee. So if we can survive when they resign, why is it we don’t have the same confidence while they’re staying and pulling down the organization?
Addition by subtraction. Bad customer relationships are another category where sometimes less is more. There’s a time when a company needs every sale it can get. That’s usually in the formative stage of a business or during a period of turnaround. But that’s not the case most often and yet we act like it is. So often we fear what could happen if we lose a customer that we’ll stay in a bad relationship even when we’re probably losing money with every job or order. It’s liberating to exit an unhealthy customer relationship and we often become more profitable the day we stop doing business with them.
Seek the counsel of others. Chances are you’re not alone in your problem. Other leaders or coworkers have been in the same situation. I knew that but why didn’t I tap into my network? Maybe I was embarrassed to admit I was stuck. Maybe I was so focused on solving the problem that I totally overlooked the help I needed that was just a phone call away. Use your resources. I’ve been in advisory situations where my client didn’t need me to tell them how to solve their problem. They knew what to do. What they needed was my affirmation of their decision and, most important, my assurance that we could fix and get out of any new problem their actions would produce.
Make smart delays, but don’t make them an excuse. There’s a place for an appropriate delay. Certainly, thoughtful consideration of the problem and potential consequences is necessary. Planning for contingencies and choosing an appropriate time for tough action is a must. But there’s a point when “now’s not the right time” is more of an excuse than a real consideration.
Indecision is a helpless feeling. Circumstances and others seem to take control. That’s not healthy, nor is it true in most cases. Make a smart decision, but make a decision and move on. Your people will respect you for doing so and you’ll feel much better for having done something to put control back in your corner. No decision you make will kill you or put your company out of business and nothing is ever so broke that it can’t be fixed.
If you’re feeling stuck and uncertain about how move forward, call or write me through the “contact us” tab on this page.