Procrastination and progress in your business – Part 2

Procrastination and progress in your business – Part 2

There are two business decision areas notorious for procrastination; talent (hiring, rewarding and firing people) is the first. Vital to think before you hire and decent to think before you fire. Undue delay loses the best and retains the worst. The second area is market growth. Judgment seldom improves with thought beyond a certain stage. The best decisions are made under pressure but with focused concentration. Lengthy contemplation confuses without clarifying.

Decisions about people are always difficult. What are our criteria for judging a potentially good employee? How long do we need to establish how they are doing? Should long service count towards increased rewards? How can we evaluate reliability versus brilliance? Questions go on and on. Without care, so does dithering.

Decisions about employees are inevitably subjective. When people try to automate them, education certificates and experience play too big a role. They almost always do. Whether HR or manager is interviewing there is a tendency to try to eliminate risk rather than to bring in new, sparkling talent. In fact the phrase ‘talent management’ brings with it a sense of horror with its overtones of control and subjugation.

Before hiring anyone we ask “What do we lose, or fail to gain, if we don’t fill this job?” Put a time-value on that and you answer to the question, “should you hire?”

Decisions about markets may in some ways be easier but they have far-reaching consequences for the profitability of a business. Risk and the fear of failure cause indecision. Behind hesitation over market expansion lies doubt about the wisdom of growing at all. Where the planet is concerned this is a legitimate and important issue. As far as a business is concerned there is no question – you grow or decline.

All growth involves risk. You won’t achieve it unless you accept that. To the extent that you can minimise risk without inhibiting growth you should obviously do so. Once averting risk becomes a drag on decision making it prevents growth and you must stop it and let the business develop.

If you procrastinate, leaving decisions to the last minute – and risking poor implementation of them – then here are a few tips for you. Apply them next time you are faced with an insoluble problem.

[1] Work out why you are procrastinating; what is it that is so difficult about this decision? Ill-defined problems often look much easier when faced. If you believe you have impossible choices your decision-making ability is seriously curtailed. Decide how important the decision is compared with whatever else is going on. Focus on what matters.

[2] Delegate collecting information to someone else but be careful not to delegate decision-making, too. It’s your decision; make it yourself.

[3] Stimulate your own confidence to decide. You’ve done more difficult things than this before. Be assertive with yourself. You have untapped power to self-motivate. Read ‘Leadership & Confidence’*.

[4] Write down your options. You may think you know them well enough but when you list them you will certainly see some that you hadn’t thought about.

[5] Consult others. No meetings, just informal chats with those whose views you respect and can talk to easily. You don’t have to carry all the burden but you do have to be responsible for your own decisions. Help and advice are there for the taking; use them.

The joke of ‘put off till tomorrow those things you don’t want to do today’ is a sad one now, especially for those who behave as though it was serious.

The good news is that once you kill procrastination you become much happier.

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