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Management5 things that bosses have to consider when making difficult decisions

Symbolic picture: Man in a suit looks at his cell phone.
Symbolic picture: Sometimes being a boss is more difficult than you had imagined.

# 1 Bosses need to define their role

Difficult decisions are often not just about purely objective factors. Take, for example, which of two valued employees will be fired. When superiors have to make difficult decisions, it is therefore important and helpful to be clear about your own self-image, as Eric Pliner, CEO of the management consulting firm YSC Consulting, writes in the online edition of the “Harvard Business Review”. He recommends this checklist:

  • How would I like to be perceived as a manager, what do I stand for?
  • What is the purpose of the economy in general (value creation, people’s lives
    improve)?
  • What is the purpose of my company specifically?
  • What role do I play in my company, who am I accountable to?
  • What am I willing to sacrifice to achieve a goal? What would I never sacrifice?

# 2 Learn from mistakes

Pliner recommends comparing an earlier, far-reaching decision with the factors just formulated: tasks as a superior, company goals, moral compass. Does the verdict stand up to scrutiny? What would you do differently today?

# 3 Difficult decision: weigh factors

Then it is a matter of weighing up the current decision based on the factors mentioned. Conflicts are programmed here, in the event of layoffs, for example, between the interests of the company and one’s own moral feelings. Pliner points out that the parameters are not set in stone. Company management or major shareholders may be persuaded to change their guidelines on the company’s goals. But it is also possible that bosses can set aside their own moral concerns with a view to the constraints of their position and the well-being of the company.

# 4 Justify the decision

According to the expert, difficult decisions must be communicated particularly clearly. “It’s understandable to have mixed feelings. But as a leader, you need to send a clear, consistent message. Show clearly what you stand for and people will understand the decision – even if they don’t like it, ”writes Pliner.

# 5 Brutally honest

“This is the hardest part,” says the expert. According to him, after making a difficult decision, it is important to return to the first step and ask yourself:

  • Have I been completely honest with myself about my values?
  • Which factors are more important to me, why and at what price?
  • What do I have to correct: my self-image or future decision-making processes?


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