Decision-making is self-explanatory – it is the consideration of the possible scenarios and consequences and the eventual choosing of one. For a manager, decision-making is often a complex and challenging mission, due to the mounts of responsibilities that they have. Both on the business side and on the social side, the workplace, managers must choose the scenarios that would benefit the firm and the employees. Although rationality is essential, the weight of emotions cannot be understated. Instead, it is vital to not only recognize this factor but to understand how to manage it both in oneself and in other people. Therefore, emotional intelligence is major to effective decision-making, especially in ethical situations, which is almost always the case for workplace issues.
Emotional Intelligence in the Workplace
In order to manage a conflict in the workplace, a number of perspectives must be considered. The manager must remain just in their decisions, but at the same time think about the good of the firm. Therefore, a balance between logical and emotional contemplations must be established, which can be achieved through emotional intelligence. Since a part of emotional intelligence is concerned with empathy, being in control of their own emotions and considerate of others allows managers to understand the underlying reasons of the conflict. Therefore, it can be easier to solve the issues in an efficient way. For example, if there are frequent issues within the office between the same people, an emotionally intelligent manager might recognize the benefit of rearranging the seating plan to a more compatible one. Or, alternatively, the emotionally intelligent manager might sense tension between his employees and act accordingly, preventing an impending conflict.
Barriers to Effective Decision-Making
Nevertheless, even an experienced and emotionally aware manager is likely to experience barriers to effective decision-making. Namely, these include bounded rationality, escalation of commitment, time constraints, uncertainty, personal biases, and conflict. Bounded rationality refers to the limitations to rationality managers face when making decisions, especially in novel situations. Escalation of commitment is the mistake of sticking to an often not ideal decision for the sake of commitment, as it can be difficult to admit one’s mistakes. Because of time pressures, managers might not have enough thinking-through time or information to make the best decision. Uncertainty, additionally, adds to the pressure of decision-making, as the consequences of any given choice are unclear. Furthermore, the perceived objectivity of the manager is often limited by personal biases, skewing the information processing and subsequent decision-making. Lastly, conflict avoidance can sometimes worsen the problem at hand in the long-run, and therefore confrontation is often necessary. Being aware of these barriers can help managers come up with better solutions to the various issues in the workplace.
I would like to give an example of the latter having a negative impact on my decisions. In order to solve a conflict, confrontation is often required, which in a short-term can create a conflict of its own. However, in the long-term, when performed correctly, this will lead to a dissolution of the original conflict. For example, I had a particular experience of miscommunication during group work at school. The group was made up of my friends, which made having to be harsh and decisive in asserting a work schedule and enforcing roles difficult and awkward. Nevertheless, it would have made the overall flow of the project much more effective than it ended up being. Conflict avoidance served as a barrier to effective decision-making and the implementation of those decisions. Therefore, in the future I would rather choose to discuss all the roles and commitments at the very start and separate the personal life from the professional or academic one. Although it might be uncomfortable at first, it will be beneficial in the long run.