By Leah Campbell | The Muse
Whether you’re a first-time intern or president and CEO, decision-making is a crucial component of success at every rung on the career ladder. Companies rely on top talent to keep the business moving with quick, thoughtful decisions—from small, individual choices about the best way to tackle your to-do list to major strategic overhauls that affect the entire organization.
“Different employers look for various skills and strengths depending on their job requirements, but all organizations seek decision-making skills,” says executive career consultant Susan Peppercorn. Recruiters and hiring managers are looking to assess decision-making skills for just about every role they need to fill. Your ability to develop and maintain those skills, and also show them off as a candidate, can make or break your chances at landing that dream job—and then, of course, determine whether or not you succeed in it.
What Are Decision-Making Skills and Why Are They Important at Work?
Decision-making skills hinge on your “ability to see, understand, and articulate the outcomes of actions,” says executive coach Debbie Radish-Respess. They help you quickly and efficiently analyze a situation so you can choose paths that will ultimately lead to the best possible outcomes.
Radish-Respess had to fine-tune her own decision-making skills in her years working in human resources, five of which she spent as a VP, before transitioning into executive and leadership coaching. One of the things she learned is that it isn’t enough to simply know which decision to make; you also have to be able to communicate potential outcomes in order to convince other team members and leaders that your choices are the most sound. When an employee is able to do both, all aspects of the business (from financial to operational to interpersonal) benefit.
“Whether it’s a question of deciding which candidate to hire, which consultant to use, what project to implement or product to develop, having the capacity to make the best decision is critical for an organization’s success,” says Peppercorn, who has become a bit of a decision-making expert herself, building her own business guiding professionals in their careers. “Employees who can demonstrate the ability to identify all the options and compare both cost and effectiveness have an advantage over those who can’t.”
But it’s not just about the company. It’s also about you. Decision-making skills are crucial in helping you figure out what jobs you even want—and in successfully going after those opportunities. In other words, these skills will help you land jobs, thrive at work, and enable your team and organization to meet goals, sure. But they’ll also help you navigate your career and steer it in the directions that are meaningful and fulfilling for you.