One of the most valuable relationships I have is being part of a professional family called TTI Performance Systems Ltd (TTI). TTI is the worldwide leader in personal and professional assessment tools. With years of research and validation, TTI assessments are time-tested and proven to provide timely solutions for today’s personal talent and business challenges. TTI tools are utilized in over 50 countries and 26 languages to help individuals, businesses and organizations. TTI assessments are used in my Career Coaching for Students™ program for high school and college students. I’ve been a member of TTI’s Chairman’s Club for several years now. This has enabled me to learn about different studies and stay in touch with one of the true thought leaders in personal talent measurement, Bill Bonnstetter.
Bill Bonnstetter, Founder and Chairman of TTI keeps his finger on the pulse by doing research. This not only keeps TTI in the leader position but gives me the ability to apply and share critically significant findings. Bonnstetter recently conducted a preliminary study of incoming Freshman students in college that showed among other things a significant lack of competency in a particular skill – “Decision Making“.
Why is this skill important for students?
One characteristic that “successful people” share is the ability to make sound and timely decisions. The best student decision makers are able to synthesize a variety of factors, such as personal opinion, group needs and professor instructions, and make decisions that at least come close to satisfying the major requirements of all involved parties.
People who are good at Decision Making do not suffer from an imbalance in the amount of focus they place on any one factor. They will most likely make decisions that place equal emphasis on all involved parties or concerns, therefore, making decisions that are more likely to satisfy all needs.
People whose Decision Making skills need work typically don’t place equal importance on all aspects of a situation and don’t utilize proven processes. Instead, they make decisions that satisfy some, but not all, of the factors or people involved.
Let’s say that a college professor has assigned a research paper that is due in two weeks. A student who is a strong decision maker considers the scope of the professor’s assignment, total class work load, other projects, what part-time work schedule is coming up and next weekend’s social events to decide that it is best to start immediately on the paper and to cancel one of their social plans for the upcoming weekend. A student who is weak in decision-making may ignore the assignment altogether for the first week and then ignore critical elements of the assignment as they write the paper. Which student is likely to get the better grade on their paper, the one with good decision-making skills or the one with weak decision-making skills?
What skills are associated with Decision Making?
Someone who has mastered skills associated with Decision Making:
• Demonstrates an ability to make difficult decisions in a timely manner.
• Gathers relevant input and develops a rationale for making decisions.
• Evaluates the impact or consequences of decisions before making them.
• Acts decisively despite obstacles, resistance or opposition.
• Accepts consequences of decisions.
• Is willing to correct incorrect decisions when necessary.
• Defends rationale for decisions when necessary.
How do students develop their own skills in Decision Making?
• Don’t make hasty decisions unless the situation requires some type of immediate reaction.
• If the situation requires you to make a quick decision, consider implementing a temporary solution and revisit the issue, incorporating all relevant factors and individuals, when the immediate crisis has passed.
• Don’t always get bogged down in details. Force yourself to look at the situation from a big-picture perspective.
• Practice being a good communicator. Share information as often as possible and be open to suggestions, comments and opinions from others.
• Be sure that everyone who will be affected by the decision you are trying to make has an opportunity to state an opinion about it.
• If you determine that a decision should be made with the help of others, create formal opportunities for the decision-making group to discuss and analyze options.
• Brainstorm to create a variety of potential solutions for each problem you face.
• Don’t be afraid to change your decisions if new information clarifies issues or presents new options.
• Look for creative ways to approach the situation by determining how others have handled similar situations in the past.
• Carefully evaluate the options you have identified based on relevant criteria. How well does each option address the issue at hand? What resources does each option require to be successful? Which options can be completed within the relevant time frame? Is each option a realistic, workable solution?
• Be sure to create potential solutions that are easily put into place. The solution or decision should make things easier, not harder!
• Be educated about the consequences of your decisions. Try to determine how each option you have identified affects others, the budget, the goal of the program or company, and even people outside the organization such as clients or suppliers.
• If you don’t feel that you have enough information, determine what is the worst possible thing that could happen if you made a decision right now without getting any new information. This may help you feel better about making a decision, or it may strengthen your resolve to gather more data.
• If a course of action is unclear and you cannot make a truly informed decision, choose what seems to be the best solution and implement it temporarily. The temporary solution may work well, or it may help you determine an alternate course of action.
• If you make an erroneous decision, be willing to improve it or take corrective action to solve the problem in a more effective manner.
• If others are affected by your decision, not only involve them in the planning process, but also keep them informed of your final decision as well as the results of your decision.
• Always behave ethically. Don’t let stress, time pressures or other people convince you to make decisions that don’t fit within your value system.
Decision Making is one of the Life Skills for Students™ e-learning modules, a highly effective self-directed 12-week program that includes 16 critically important skill learning modules. Each module was selected based on studies of highly successful people and includes simple exercises to develop each skill. Life Skills for Students™ is also included in the Career Coaching for Students™ program. Click on this link for more information about Life Skills for Students™.
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Career Coaching for Students™ is a trademark of Success Discoveries, LLC
Life Skills for Students™ is a trademark of Success Discoveries, LLC
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