Decision Making in Times of Uncertainty
With the current pessimism, media overkill and uncertainty about economic conditions, we are seeing more so-called leaders become reluctant to set revenue and/or profit or related performance goals with their subordinates. In the interest of fairness to their sales force, asking for 20 to 30% increase for 2009 may be unrealistic. So rather than determining what might be achieved with focused, committed execution, we’re seeing people crawl into their shells by failing to ask for any commitment. The alternative is to sit back and hope for minimal erosion of the status quo. I referred to so-called leaders because in the absence of goals, leadership, by definition, doesn’t exist.
I previously promoted the concept that attainability is a prerequisite for effective goal setting. (see Ready For Takeoff). So I concede that setting unattainable goals can to more harm than good. But should uncertainty be justification to putting any or all achievement measures on hold?
When people are aggressive, its time to be fearful. When people are fearful, its time to be aggressive.
Are you guilty of using uncertainty as an excuse to duck your responsibility as a leader? In an attempt to avoid being unfair to your people, might you be doing an injustice to both them and your organization?
To all of you goal reluctant, yet aspiring leaders, I suggest…
- Stop procrastinating and commit to something.
- Consider setting goals with shorter term target dates to reduce your level of uncertainty. Then revise your longer term projections as more facts are known.
- Use a collaborative approach to determining realistically high measures for the achievements that are attainable.
- Ask yourself: In your attempt to spare your people from ongoing accountability, who is really being served?
If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there. …but it will be a long and frustrating journey.
In these times, our margin for error has shrunk to where long and frustrating journeys are more unaffordable than ever.