7 Tips for Decision Making in the Workplace

Enhance your leadership and management career with a widely recognised CMI qualification.

Have you thought about how many decisions you made since you woke up this morning? For example, when you decided to get out of bed instead of pressing the snooze button and going back to sleep, it probably wasn’t your favourite decision, but it was still a decision you made. 

Every day we make hundreds of decisions, big and small, that can affect the course of our day, and our lives. According to research from Cornell University, the average adult makes around 226.7 decisions each day just on food alone, while it’s also estimated that around 35,000 remotely conscious decisions are made everyday by a single individual.

However, just because we all make an enormous amount of decisions every day doesn’t mean that good decision-making, in particular, is a skill we’re born with. In fact, good decision-making is a skill we develop and work on over time, and this is especially true when it comes to decision-making in the workplace. 

In this blog, we discuss 7 tips for decision-making at work to help you make informed decisions at work - and in life.

1. Identify your goal 

Before taking any steps towards making a decision, the very first thing you need to do is identify what the problem that needs to be solved is, or if there’s no problem, to understand what the ultimate purpose of your decision is. Ask yourself, ‘what am I looking to gain out of this and what is the ideal end result’?

Understanding the purpose behind your decision will not only help you devise an effective action plan, but will also allow you to stick with it and see it through, until your goal is ultimately reached. 

2. Gather all the information 

In order to make an informed decision, gathering all the necessary information is a crucial step in the process. By doing this, you’re in a much better position to identify what needs to be done in order to achieve the best end result for your projects, teams and the organisation.  

Additionally, gathering the necessary information enables you to answer any questions or address any concerns you may have, which will then help you reduce uncertainty and reach a decision with confidence. 

When it comes to your research, it needs to be unbiased, so always consider the reliability of the source and how valid the information is. Work your way through the following questions: 

  • What would make us regret this decision?
  • What would be the cost of making the wrong decision?
  • Does this decision really need to be made now? Would it be beneficial and possible to defer making a decision? 
  • Is there another, less risky option that would present a similar trade-off?
  • Do we have the right data to validate our decision? If not, should we go ahead without the data we need?

These are all questions you need to be asking yourself when gathering information. If you're still unsure you can always seek the opinion of people you trust, or even speak to an expert depending on the circumstances. Having a variety of viewpoints will help you weigh your different options for the final decision, while being an active listener and asking further questions helps you pinpoint even the smallest details that could affect the outcome of your decision. 

3. Set a time limit and prioritise 

Prioritising and setting time frames is an essential element in making the right decisions, especially when you have a fast-approaching deadline. Having a goal oriented mindset helps you stay on-track, while a time limit can keep you away from procrastinating and missing important milestones.

That said, understanding how to prioritise your tasks will allow you to build a timeline for the tasks that need to be completed. This is especially true when you have an influx of tasks that need to be completed at approximately the same time.

For example, you’re tasked to prepare a budget report, as well as write a performance review, and you believe both will take the same time to do. Since the budget report, in theory, first needs to be approved by your manager, the wisest choice would be to do that first and give your manager ample time to review and approve it before its deadline. Then, while your manager does that you can work on your performance review and accomplish two tasks at the same time.

4. Consider the Pros and Cons

Considering the pros and cons of a potential decision and analysing what’s best isn’t always as easy as it sounds. In fact, it’s human nature for the negative possibilities to take a greater toll on us and make us obsess about them more than the positive ones. According to research by the Stratford Graduate School of Business, humans are “really bad at weighing pros and cons”, explaining that negatives seem to affect us more. 

Take, for example, something as simple as interviewing candidates for a job opening. Perhaps a candidate you interviewed said one thing that didn't resonate so well with you, which may impact your overall opinion of them and make you forget about all of their obvious strengths - they could be the perfect candidate for the role! So, staying rational and focusing on the bigger picture is imperative, especially when making strategic decisions. 

Think of it this way, the pros reflect all the possible benefits and positive outcomes of your decisions, whereas the cons represent the risks and impact. By systematically weighing the pros and cons you can avoid cognitive biases. In an organisation, this is important since your decisions may affect your colleagues, company profits, processes and overall goals. 

5. Focus on the desired outcome

When things don’t go the way we planned, the human response sometimes is to panic, right? Well, considering that many decisions are related to solving a problem, the most important thing is to remain level-headed and focus on the solution rather than the problem and everything that could go wrong. Let’s be honest, the problem is never as big as we think it is, but I guess it’s human to enjoy a bit of drama. 

A notable example of this is the Covid-19 pandemic, a once in a lifetime event nobody saw coming, and inevitably caught us all by surprise. However, while some businesses struggled to find solutions to such an unprecedented event and ultimately shut down, others focused on how they could work around it to keep their business open.

Some restaurants for instance created their own online ordering systems and utilised social media to promote it. Some even went as far as installing a drive-through window to serve customers, which helped keep their business in operation. 

When you concentrate on your end goal, the problems suddenly don’t seem so scary and you’d be surprised how quickly you’ll be able to find solutions to them.

6. Trust your intuition 

When making decisions, whether big or small, trusting your gut instinct, while also balancing that out with the evidence you gathered, is probably the best way to go about it. Oftentimes we spend so long considering our options that we start overthinking and getting overwhelmed. In that case the best thing to do is step away for a moment, go on a walk, read a new book, watch your favourite show, anything that helps to take your mind off it for a while.

Based on research by the University of Michigan, around 73% of people aged 25 to 35 tend to overthink, which in turn often interferes with the quality of their decision-making.

Empowering employees to use their problem-solving skills and encouraging them to take the lead on making decisions can help build up their confidence and their critical thinking. As a result, this can make them feel more invested in their work and that they’re also contributing to the company’s overall success. 

Just remember to not let the fear of making the wrong decision stand in your way and trust your intuition, more often than not it’s right!

7. Remember to stay flexible

Sometimes things don’t work out the way we hoped they would, and most of the time the reason why is completely out of our control. There’s nothing we can do about it and that’s okay.

Staying flexible and adjusting your timeframes where possible is so important when it comes to decision-making, because the last thing you want to do is rush a decision and then turn out to be the wrong one. Try not to overwhelm yourself with your own preferred scenarios, instead focus on how you can make a few changes to reach your end goal and seek the help of your colleagues where you can. 

Everyday companies involved in mergers and acquisitions have to deal with compromises and changes, so staying flexible and focusing on finding a win/win decision for both sides is exactly how they manage to remain successful. 


When it comes to decision making in the workplace, it can sometimes be overwhelming, leaving you afraid that the wrong decision will cost your company lots of money or that it could affect your own future within it.

With these handy tips, however, you can step back, look at the bigger picture and find the perfect solution to the problem and remember, there’s nothing wrong in asking for support. 


Kickstart your dream career with a professional qualification with DPG.