Project Management

The Cost of Indecision

PMI Silver Spring Chapter +1

Beth Spriggs' professional career began in information technology in 1999. As a certified PMP with over a decade of project management experience, she has combined her love for tech and project management by focusing her career on managing technology projects and portfolios. She is author of The Project Manager's Little Book of Cheats.

If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice — perhaps a costly one. Decision-making is a skill that can be developed and improved. Here are four tactics to help you move forward on a decision, and a look at the challenges and benefits of making it by consensus, consultation or command.

The first time I was faced with the decision as a manager to fire an employee, I was mentally stuck. It was personal. It was emotional. I had never fired someone before, I didn’t know how to have the conversation, and it scared me. I repeatedly sought advice from my boss, desperate for anything that would make the decision clear and unequivocal. During one of these conversations with my boss he said something that I’ll never forget: “I don’t care what you do. Keep her, fire her. But stop bringing me the same problem.” Wow, he was right! I had repeatedly talked about the same problem and he had graciously given me a lot of great advice, plenty to empower me to make a decision. But I had been stuck.

The price of my indecision was steep. It cost a lot of my time and my boss’s precious time. It had mentally consumed me, creating unsustainable levels of stress. The indecision meant that I continued to have to deal with ongoing problems that the employee created. I spent a lot of time on damage control, repairing damaged relationships and broken …

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If man could be crossed with the cat, it would improve man but deteriorate the cat.

- Mark Twain