Strategies for Decision Making
By Robert O'Halloran Professor & Director, Hospitality Management, East Carolina University | June 15, 2010
It can be argued that an individual is hired for his or her ability to make sound decisions. This applies most readily at the management level though decisions by staff members are happening all around us. However, there are no crystal balls and no one knows how a decision will turn out. Managers must consider the differences in the levels and or severity of problems. Decisions must consider the amount of control a manager has or could have over and in a situation. Having a model for decision making purposes may assist managers to quickly assess a situation and offer an optimal solution.
Make a Judgment
First and foremost is the defining of a problem. What is the actual problem or are we looking at symptoms of bigger issues? Managers can make quick fixes but is the fix the actual problem. For example, the number of employees calling in sick is increasing. Is this a problem, perhaps a health problem with the employees or is it symptomatic of something else, perhaps a less than positive work environment.
It is essential to define problems accurately in order to effectively make decisions. Once a problem is defined as a human resources, marketing, operations etc... then the consideration of what decision or decisions must be made. What is a decision? How are decisions made? Decisions are the answers to difficult problems and or situations. The ability to make a decision requires an individual to identify a problem, seeks facts create alternatives and then select one. Each decision impacts a set of resources that impacts an operation.
Arguably a hospitality operation's manager makes more decisions in a typical day than any other business through interactions with staff, guests, vendors and others. Some are simple and repetitive and others are complex, dealing with personal and financial implications. Some decisions will take significant time to consider alternatives and others require an almost immediate response.
The issue is that managers do not always have control over a situation. To begin structuring the decision making process, decision can be divided into two categories. First, "Well Structured" problems are those that managers face regularly and typically can be solved in a similar manner. The situations are not always the same but arguably one preferred if not correct answer or method of dealing with the problem exists. In the simplest terms a math problem is a well structured problem. Multiplying two times two always equals four. The decision or answer is going to remain constant and therefore process or perhaps precedent is set to tackle similar problems.
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