What Are Decision-Making Skills? (Definition and Examples)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 27 September 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Decision-making skills can help you make choices that improve your organisation. The aptitude to make decisions is a leadership trait, which portrays your ability to think objectively and relate concepts to the goals you're trying to reach. Learning how to make sound decisions can help establish bonds with employees and strengthen your company's culture. In this article, we explain what decision-making skills are, examples of decision-making abilities, how to improve your ability to make decisions and how to highlight these skills when applying for a job.

Related: Enhance Your Decision-Making With Deductive Reasoning

What are decision-making skills?

Decision-making skills show your proficiency in choosing between two or more alternatives. You can make decisions once you process all the information available to you and speak with the right points of contact involved in a certain situation. It's important to identify processes that help you make the right decision on behalf of the organisation and make a concerted effort to uncover biases that may affect the outcome.

Related: Important Soft Skills Employers in Hong Kong Look For

Examples of decision-making abilities

Here are some examples of decision-making abilities that can help you collaborate effectively with your team:

Problem-solving

Problem-solving skills have a critical role in making beneficial decisions in the workplace. Team leaders inevitably face challenges when managing employees and organisational processes, but they can overcome those challenges by addressing problems logically. Separating your emotions from the issue can help you think rationally about the situation. This enables you to consider different strategies for resolving problems, including their benefits and potential drawbacks, so you can feel confident choosing a suitable approach.

Leadership

Being an effective leader requires using decision-making abilities to help your colleagues and your teams overcome obstacles. As a leader, you're responsible for organising the structure of your teams. This includes delegating tasks to each member and addressing concerns they have about work-related issues. Leadership skills allow you to work cooperatively with your team to gather insight that can help you make a decision that benefits all parties involved.

Related: 10 Leadership Skills To Highlight in Your Resume

Reasoning

Using reasoning to make decisions involves examining the facts and determining how you can use them to take action. The facts can help you understand the situation in its entirety and consider the advantages and disadvantages of potential solutions thoughtfully. Like other problem-solving skills, reasoning requires you to think objectively and handle each situation without involving your emotions. This ensures you treat all team members fairly and manage situations with consistency.

Intuition

Intuition is about deciding and trusting your instincts. Your instincts come from the experiences you've witnessed in the past and the core values that drive you each day. The sum of the experiences and the lessons you've learned from them factor into your decision-making. You need to associate your instincts with the potential actions you can take to see if your decision is logical and actionable.

Teamwork

Even as a leader, you're still a member of your team. Each member has an important role, and understanding issues from everyone's perspective can help you collaborate with them to make decisions. You can also encourage members to work with each other to solve problems and contact you if they need help. You can also work with your colleagues, such as other executives or team leaders, to identify issues that affect the entire organisation, make a collective decision about how to proceed and determine steps each person can take to resolve them.

Read more: Teamwork Skills: Definition and Examples

Emotional intelligence

If you have high emotional intelligence, you can process and control your own emotions in difficult situations. Emotional intelligence also helps you understand your team members' feelings, which makes it easier to communicate with them. When you're working with your team to handle a situation that involves sharing opinions, emotional intelligence allows you to promote healthy discussion between team members while acknowledging each person's thoughts and ideas. By listening actively, having patience and practising empathy, you can help your team make important decisions.

Creativity

Thinking creatively can help you formulate ideas for making decisions and give you the tools to evaluate their effectiveness. Using your team members' or colleagues' opinions and ideas, you can create hypothetical scenarios that allow you to consider the effectiveness of a specific approach. By sharing these scenarios with your team, you can collect feedback from them and encourage them to help you decide which decisions or solutions may be the most effective in your situation.

Time management

Time management has a significant role in making decisions because most decisions involve a time constraint. To avoid missing opportunities, you can begin taking steps to solve the problem right away. You can also prevent yourself from making a decision too quickly by outlining your process, determining how much time you have to make the decision and maximising your time so you can use it efficiently. Your team and colleagues can help you make timely decisions by working on solutions with you.

Organisation

Making a sound decision involves staying organised at work. You can practise organisation in many ways, including how you manage your team, the methods you use to keep your physical and digital records in order and how you decide which tasks to prioritise. Staying organised when handling a decision can help you ensure you take the appropriate steps to choose the right approach.

How to improve your ability to make decisions

Here are four steps you can take to help you and your team improve your decision-making abilities:

1. Identify the situation

Any member of the organisation can recognise problems, which they can report to a department manager or human resources if the problems could have a negative impact on the organisation. Employees may also inform the executive team if the issue relates to the organisation's long-term goals. You can schedule a meeting with all parties involved before proceeding with informing the rest of the organisation.

2. Note potential solutions or actions

Document all possible solutions you can think of to resolve the problem and keep them to present to your team. List them for your team during a meeting so they can also make suggestions. After the meeting, email the list of solutions to your team so they can refer to it in the next steps.

3. List the advantages and disadvantages of each option

Discuss the pros and cons of each solution extensively to see which options can proceed to the decision-making stage. Take your time and calculate the benefits and drawbacks of each one to see if they match your goals and key performance indicators (KPIs). Asking for feedback from your team can help you find a solution that works for everyone involved.

Related: How To Create KPIs To Boost Performance

4. Choose the decision you want to proceed with and measure the results

Once you decide on an approach, you can delegate tasks to your team members to execute the plan. Think of the decision you make as one with a short-term and long-term impact. You can learn what works and where you could use improvements by tracking the performance of this decision and determine if it had any unexpected consequences. You can use this information to change the approach in case you need to use it again to resolve an issue in the future.

How to highlight decision-making skills

Here are a few ways you can highlight your ability to make decisions on your CV or cover letter:

Use applicable verbs shown in the job description

Word association has a major role in emphasising your skills to the hiring manager. Verbs like selected, decided, strategised and executed all exemplify a decision-maker. When you include these words in a CV or cover letter, make sure you prepare to expand on them if you receive an invitation for an interview.

Underscore the metrics you earned in different roles

List the top-performing metrics at each position you held to get the interest of the recruiter. Use details such as numbers, percentages and time periods. For instance, you might mention that your last position in a leadership role made you responsible for managing a 10-person team and you guided them through a six-step content creation process that boosted engagement by 20%.

Include feedback from friends and former colleagues

If you practise decision-making at work, you likely practise it in your personal life, too. When you're crafting a CV or resume for a new job, ask friends, family members and former colleagues to explain instances when they've seen your decision-making abilities in action. They may provide you with helpful insight that can help you get the attention of a hiring manager.

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