The Forces of Influence
Making decisions is a major portion of the manager\'s responsibilities. It is an aspect that cannot be taken lightly nor can it be done in a hasty manner. Hasty, careless decisions can have devastating results on the manager\'s unit or even for the entire company. Decisions that are made with deliberation using different kinds of processes can lead to better and/or more profitable operations. When decisions are made in this manner, the manager will be confident that they have made an appropriate decision and is the best option given the information available at the time. This does not mean that the manager will always make the correct decision. Lack of information or situational changes can lead to faulty analysis. However, if the manager uses critical thinking and proven successful decision-making strategies, they can and should be confident in whatever action they have decided is appropriate. Their confidence level will affect the outcome of their action.
"Managers can be called "information workers"; a manager is a craftsperson whose raw material is information (McCall & Kaplan 16)." Managers spend the majority of their time absorbing information and trying to process all the information in order to reach a decision of some sort or another. A manager has many information system sources that may provide information, including: systems and structures to document on ongoing progress and status of situations, people around them volunteer information and might be approached in search of trouble signs, clues, and to find missing pieces of puzzles, values of the organization, which point people in certain directions and define the critical variables in a complex array of possibilities, and a manager's own direct experience (McCall & Kaplan 16).
Information systems are effective tools that a manager may choose to use. These systems keep them informed of on going events. There is one major problem with information systems. Too much information and the manager can go into information overload. This can lead a manager to make faulty decisions based on information that is relevant to their perception but fail to investigate information an opposing idea or situation. Information overload can also result in paralysis of action.
Managers rely heavily on peers that surround them. This allows the manager to gather information needed to complete their critical thinking process, which leads to a decision. Although these peers might not have the proper information, they are still a primary source of information the manger must use. A manager cannot assume the information is either relevant or irrelevant.
The corporate vision or mission statement is places for managers to obtain information. This allows the manager to decipher what information is relevant from the company's standpoint.
The direct hands-on experience of a manger is a good source for obtaining information. When a manager is encountered with a problem that they have experienced before, they can use their firsthand experience and knowledge to aid in the critical thinking and decision-making process of the problem.
A big factor in what managers use to process the information they encounter relies heavily upon their cognitive process. Which according to McCall and Kaplan is the first step in making sense out of the information that is in front of them at the time. Managers process information through nine different processes including: making sense of the pieces; processing only so much; simplifying the information; utilizing an emotional component; defining a reality; digging for information; knowing what one is doing; knowing one's self; and having an open mind. To base decisions on personal perspectives or opinions without taking the time to analyze the situation can result in losses for the company. One other factor that is definitely an influence and a thinking pattern, which can affect a decision-making process, is the manager's personality. Different personality types have been related to decision-making strategies used.
There are many factors affecting the quality of decisions made by any given manager that include but are not limited to: personality characteristics, experience, the context of the situation at hand, strategies used and critical thinking and analysis. One topic not discussed at great length in this paper is the degree of confidence a manager has in the decisions they makes. It is only a logical conclusion that the manager will implement decisions with an enthusiasm and dedication that is equivalent to their belief they have selected the correct action for the situation. If the manager follows some of the simple steps outlined and avoids the pitfalls, they can and should have complete confidence in the decision made.
McCall, Morgan, Jr. and Robert E. Kaplan. Whatever it Takes. The Realities of Decision
Making. Prentice Hall 1990.