How Work Management Can Streamline the Decision-Making Process

As a leader, a large portion of your responsibilities involves making decisions for your team. 

There are the small decisions, like where you should host your team-wide happy hour or what you should have catered for lunch.

But then there are the bigger decisions. Things like whether or not you should move forward with that project or what process changes you need to make in order to improve collaboration across teams.

It’s the bigger choices that often lead to a lot of stress and confusion (although deciding where to order lunch from can be stressful too!). Those looming and weighty decisions send the pros, cons, and possible outcomes swirling through your mind, which makes it difficult to make a logical decision.

Plus when you’re constantly tasked with choosing the way forward, you’re bound to run up against something called decision fatigue — meaning you just grow tired of making decisions (and, as a result, make poorer ones). 

Need proof? Studies have shown that doctors are more likely to prescribe antibiotics at the end of their shifts than at the beginning. And judges are more likely to deny parole at the end of the day than at the start. That’s decision fatigue in action.

The good news is that the decision-making process doesn’t need to be quite so difficult. A work management solution can help you streamline things even further so you can rest assured that you’re making the best possible choices for your team. Whew! That’s a little less stress on your plate. 

Benefit #1: Work management provides historical context

You’ve probably heard the oft-repeated sentiment (frequently misattributed to Albert Einstein) that goes a little something like, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.”

It seems obvious when it’s in writing. But, unfortunately, it’s a common trap — because we’re all surprisingly bad at using past experiences when making various types of decisions. 

In a 2016 study published in the Journal of Consumer Psychology and conducted by Kelly Haws, an associate professor of marketing at Vanderbilt University, participants were asked to either recall previous instances when they either controlled the impulse to buy something or failed to do so. 

Following that exercise, they were asked how much credit card debt they’d be willing to take on in order to buy an item they really wanted.

The surprising result? Participants who were asked to reflect on times they had failed to control their own expenses were willing to go into just as much debt as those who reflected on their money management expenses. In short, the fact that they had mismanaged their money in the past had little to no influence on their future decisions and behavior.

Without a doubt, this natural tendency can be hard to combat when it comes to your decision-making process in business. But a work management platform allows you to see past experiences in black and white, and hopefully use them to inform your decision making.

Let’s look at a decision-making process example: If you’re trying to decide on a realistic deadline for a team-wide project, seeing a detailed timeline for a similar past project can be informative and help you set a more reasonable end date.

Remember, history is the best teacher — and a work management solution can help you train your brain to listen. 

Benefit #2: Work management focuses on facts rather than instinct

Here’s another culprit for swaying or slowing down your decision-making process: your intuition. 

“Trust your gut” might be common advice, and it definitely has its time and place. But when it comes to decisions you’re making for your entire team, it can be somewhat misguided.

In a series of 2016 studies published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology by Jennifer Lerner, a professor of public policy and management at Harvard University, and Christine Ma-Kellams of the University of La Verne, managers were asked to detect an interviewee’s emotions. The research proved that their evaluations of the situation were more accurate when they thought systematically rather than relying on their gut feeling.

Similarly to the historical context scenario that we discussed above, a work management solution puts the facts right in front of leaders’ noses so they can ground their decisions in reality rather than perception. A solid work management platform should also offer customizable reports (Wrike has tons available!) that you can use to get the information you need when working through all types of decision-making processes.

Let’s say you’re trying to figure out when you can realistically accomplish that big quarterly project. You can generate a report of how many overdue tasks are currently assigned to each team member to get a better understanding of everyone’s existing workload. 

By pulling this information out of your work management solution, you can also create and then work through an unbiased decision tree, which is sort of like a “choose your own adventure” flow chart that helps you land on a final option. 

Want an example? Check out a decision tree about whether or not to host a meeting

Benefit #3: Work management centralizes communication

You might be the leader but that doesn’t mean you make decisions in a vacuum. The choices you make impact your team, which means your decision-making process is probably cluttered with a lot of different opinions and suggestions. Of course, it’s up to you to determine how much weight to give those opinions. 

But if you’re in a position where you actually want to keep track of feedback and use it to guide your process, that can be challenging. Some comments are uttered in team meetings, while others are submitted via email. Some suggestions happen in one-on-ones, while others are said in passing in the break room.

You want to make sure you’re making room for all of the voices on your team (particularly if this decision impacts them all!), but you can’t do that without some sort of set structure in place.

That’s another perk of a work management platform: It centralizes communication. This is helpful for not only reflecting back on past comments, conversations, and status updates but also for creating a single source of truth for input about current decisions.

Maybe you’re trying to decide whether your team should be prioritizing the creation of a new webinar or ebook, and you want your direct reports to weigh in — they’re the ones with boots on the ground, after all.

You want to keep their contributions and opinions organized so you can create a Wrike task or project for a specific decision where people can publicly share their thoughts on which of those tasks should be prioritized. It sparks some enlightening conversation and debate while also ensuring that you have all of those opinions in one spot so you can easily refer back to them.

Benefit #4: Work management creates a repeatable plan for success

Your job can be stressful, and the responsibility for all of these decisions only adds to that. In fact, according to a survey from the Center for Creative Leadership, decision-making is one of the key factors contributing to stress among leaders. 

After you get through making a tough decision, you want to breathe a sigh of relief — and not have to wrestle with the same choice all over again in the near future. 

So rather than taking each decision one by one, a better strategy is to put systems and processes in place to templatize your projects and decisions so you can avoid the same headaches moving forward. Just think: You won’t need to make tons of choices about guiding your team through a successful product launch if you already have a system and template in place for making it happen. 

A work management solution should make this level of planning and coordination easy, and Wrike offers tons of templates so you can repeat success time and time again — without having to work through the same decision-making process. 

Streamline your decision-making process and become a better leader 

There are a lot of tough responsibilities involved in being a manager, but repeatedly making important decisions definitely ranks toward the top of the list. Fortunately, you can take some hassle out of the decision-making process by using a work management platform.

A work management solution offers numerous benefits, including (but certainly not limited to!):

  • Providing historical context for your decision-making process
  • Guiding you with facts rather than intuition
  • Centralizing communication
  • Creating a repeatable plan for success
     

Implement a work management platform for your own team and prepare to take a little stress off your own plate. You deserve it.

Want to make the decision-making process even more straightforward? Start your free trial of Wrike today.

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