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The five Cs of decision making

“Things are really challenging – I need to make some tough decisions regarding staff. It’s difficult to be objective amid particularly difficult given that I am a sole owner– I have nobody to discuss things with. Any tips on successful decision making?”

Julian O'Dell

Link to Julian O'DellI am often contacted by business owners for my opinion on decisions they are making within their estate agencies, whether it be to expand their business, change their staff commission scheme or which software provider I would recommend.

I recall one client seeking advice as to whether he should grant an employee’s request to leave work 45 minutes early every Tuesday to go and watch his son play football. We talked it through and discussed in particular how he might respond to the request. I advised him to follow a recognised decision making process which has stood me – and others in good stead – the 5 Cs.

The five Cs

The first C is Consideration
This is a time to reflect and contemplate a whole range of issues relating to the scenario about which a decision needs to be made. Comprehensive knowledge of all the facts must be in place. Consideration as to all the options and the potential range of outcomes and reactions must be exercised. Previous decisions on similar scenarios and their success or failure should be reviewed. Level of authority, legalities, company procedure and culture all need to be taken into account.

The second C is Consultation
It is best practice and etiquette to consult all appropriate parties. Anybody likely to be affected by the decision should be consulted beforehand as they may see consequences that the decision maker might have missed. Further to this, consulting other managers/owners who have found themselves in similar situations may prove fruitful – particularly how their decisions actually fared. Legal and technical experts would be worth involving too.

The third C is Crunch
This is the point at which the decision has to be made. In fairness, it is possible that at this point, the manager/owner may actually decide that they are not yet able to make a decision and therefore have to resort to further consideration and consultation. Weak managers will tend to procrastinate or perhaps take the easiest option while stronger leaders adopt the philosophy “Sometimes the hardest thing and the right thing are the same.”

The fourth C is Communicate
Following on from the first three Cs, the decision must be communicated to all affected parties. In the case of the aforementioned request to watch his son play football, communication with the employee himself, his colleagues and out of courtesy the people with whom the decision maker had consulted should all be undertaken. Should there be other offices or departments within the company, communication by email or phone call will always prove to be safer and more effective than the somewhat hit and miss method of Chinese whispers via the company grapevine.

And finally

As with the vast majority of management responsibilities, there needs to be a Checking mechanism in place. At a predetermined specific time and date, the decision must be reviewed in detail to include the following questions:

  • What was the outcome?
  • Had all consequences been anticipated?
  • Were those consequences positive?
  • Was it the right decision?

If the answer to the final question is in the negative, then it is back to the first C and another journey through the decision making process.

Julian O'Dell

Julian O’Dell

As for the football request, after applying the 5 Cs, the manager declined the employee’s wish, citing the potential disruption to the office and the potentially damaging precedent it would set as the reasons for that decision. He did agree that the team should structure the office diary each Tuesday to allow the employee in question to leave bang on closing time to see the second half of his son’s matches. The employee seemed to respect and accept this decision.

Weak managers may procrastinate or take the easiest option while the stronger leaders adopt the philosophy Sometimes the hardest thing and the right thing are the same.

Whilst the decisions you may have to make to help your business navigate choppy waters over the next few months are far more serious and weighty than the example that has been included above, the process will need to be the same.

The 5 Cs are an essential item in the management tool box.and will massively increase your chances of success in the key area of decision making. Even so, not every decision you make may prove to be the right one. But keep in mind the age-old mantra “Good decisions come from experience. Experience comes from bad decisions.”

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July 12, 2019