THE RIGHT CALL?

I live in Portland, Oregon, a city with but one professional sports franchise; the National Basketball Association’s Portland Trailblazers. Consequently everything that happens to the Blazers consumes the majority of the city’s sports-minded. No surprise then that a great depression has accompanied the latest season ending injury to their 2007 number one draft pick Greg Oden. Also of no surprise is the renewed second guessing concerning whether the Blazers should have drafted Oden in the first place.

While I offer no opinion on this matter, the second guessing sounds all too familiar to me. After all, it is an obsession that consumes many managers; “did I make the right call”? Well, how will you ever know since life does not allow you to know what would actually have happened if B, C, or D had been your choice?

The trouble with management decisions is that they are essentially most often ACTS Of FAITH. Most decision making situations suggest a range of options, each buying you something and each with a cost. You must choose. Past experience and gut instinct will help but still you must choose. Only in time, looking back, will you know if you are pleased with the results.

Fear of making the wrong call or of making a mistake freezes many a manager into inaction, procrastination, insisting on more time to think and study the problem, and/or just a few more opinions to gather. Over time, this is not the road to management success.

As a manager you are paid to make sound decisions and lots of them. You will often have little time and rarely all the information and sense of confidence you would like. While many of your decisions will work out to your satisfaction, others will not. Since your mistakes will be seen by others, including your superiors, it becomes critical that you are able to learn something from your less than satisfactory decisions and that you do not keep making the same mistakes.

Over time, with experience, your decision making track record is likely to improve and your confidence will grow. Since most of your decisions will always be acts of faith, perhaps it will help if you remember what a young customer service representative at Saturn Motor Company in Springhill, Tennessee told my tour group many years ago: “here at Saturn“, she said, “we believe that the best decision you can make, is the best decision you can make, based on what you know, when you have to make it”.

This is, I believe, wise insight. So managers, overcome whatever reticence you might feel and make the decisions you are paid to make Then learn something from every one of them.

TERRY JOSEPH BUSCH

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