Even strong leaders who make tough choices every day can be unduly tasked in a crisis.
Limited time, lack of information, overwrought emotions, and lack of sleep are just a few of the factors that complicate decision-making during a crisis. However, there are some keys to separating feelings, uncertainties, fears, and stress from facts and sound reasoning. These efforts can help enable more effective, productive decision-making during this COVID-19 pandemic, and it can help you keep calm and work on.
- Write down your gut reactions to the situation. Put these notes aside for a few minutes (or more if you have the luxury of time). Think a bit more about your decision, then revisit your notes. If your original and new thoughts are the same, great. If not, consider why your thinking changed.
- Seek an impartial person’s opinion. This individual can help offer thoughts not burdened by your own experiences, feelings, and biases. However, realize that everyone comes with baggage, so you should weigh your thoughts with the other person’s.
- Analyze the potential consequences of both your gut reaction and its opposite. If your first thought it to lay off a certain portion of staff, consider the possible impact of that as well as the implications of not laying off anyone.
- If you have to make multiple decisions, weigh all options at once. This type of decision-making is less susceptible to bias.
- Consider using the seven steps of the Military Decision-Making Process (MDMP): receipt of mission (the issue requiring a decision); mission analysis (analyzing all variables contributing to the end decision/outcome); development of a course of action; evaluation of each course of action; comparing courses of action; final determination of the course of action; and implementation of the decision.
Making tough decisions in a crisis is never easy. However, using some of these process steps can help prevent knee-jerk reactions or directives based on emotion or undue pressure. Instead of being paralyzed by fear or overwhelmed by analysis, you can make sound decisions grounded in the moment. So take a deep breath, keep calm, and decide on.