Making decisions is one of a manager’s most difficult tasks. Is it the right choice? How will the employees react? Will it be disruptive? Is the effort worth the outcome?
There’s no doubt about it, making decisions can be downright painful. Most of us balk at making changes that may be difficult or hurt us or others in the short term, even when we can see there are long-term benefits.
Professor and author Michael Jensen even has a name for this hesitation – Pain Avoidance Model (PAM). According to Jensen, this isn’t a rational mode of thinking, but a set of responses imprinted in our minds that helps us escape pain by readying us to fight danger and flee from it.
How does this translate to the front office? An executive has a business problem. Solving the situation will be painful. So he chooses not to confront the unpleasant reality. He ignores the problem.
According to Jensen, PAM is not just a psychological curiosity. Businesses lose millions of dollars every year because of leadership inaction.
Is there any hope? Jensen says there is. He states that the very signals that tell us to avoid pain can, with training, be redirected to the rational part of our brains. That means, managers can teach themselves to face up to painful situations, recognize what must be done and act.
Change has always been one of life’s constants. But today the pace is rapid. The necessity to make fast, hard decisions will be a requirement of every manager running a successful business. Jensen predicts that those companies that embrace change – including the pain it may bring – will prosper.
So, in short, today’s successful executive must be a decisive executive. But, how do you know if the decisions you make are the correct ones?
You won’t. But not making a decision is still making a decision.
Or as the Swahili proverb says, “Standing is still going.”
Making the wrong choice is not worth the sacrifice of doing nothing. If your decision doesn’t take you where you hoped, you just make a new decision.
For as Samuel Smiles said, “We learn wisdom from failure much more than from success; we often discover what will do by finding out what will not do; and probably he who never made a mistake never made a discovery.”
It’s your decision.
Just imagine what great things you can discover.