A difficult decision is one where you don’t know the right answer.
Is now the right time to invest in new technology?
Should you hire Karen or Trudy?
Which market should you enter next - Columbus or Indianapolis?
You can’t know the answers to these difficult questions in advance, so you make an educated guess and hit go. Easy enough.
Now for the hard stuff. Those times when you know exactly what you have to do, but repeatedly fail to do it. When you chicken out because you know there are going to be unpleasant consequences.
Many decisions could fit this unpleasant description, but the most destructive one I see over and over and over is failing to remove a non-performing management team member.
You know it has to be done. The other management team members know it has to be done. Every employee in the building knows it has to be done. The kid who mows your lawn knows it has to be done.
But day after day you find excuses to put it off. And day after day the problem gets worse.
SCARE YOURSELF INTO ACTION
Grab your org chart and stare at the lines that connect you to your team. Imagine those lines are actually thick pulsing blood vessels. Life-giving tubes that should be carrying nutrients from you to each of your direct reports and from them to their direct reports.
And notice that the flow between you and Mr. Not-Getting-It-Done is not good. Nutrients aren’t flowing smoothly through him to his direct reports. Which means your lack of action is starving everyone in that branch of the organization - fine people that you fought hard to hire and that did nothing to deserve this starvation.
And if you zoom out you’ll notice that even the folks in the healthier parts of your organization look a little pale. Which shouldn’t be a surprise because you know that an organism is only as strong as it’s weakest part.
And now that you see your org chart in this painful new light, you can’t unsee it. Which means now is the time to confront your unpleasant decisions in a transparent and caring manner.
And yes, today will suck. The next few weeks or months might even suck, but long term the place will suck way less because you took action.
Unpleasant decision are only hard because you make them that way.
If you want to go a little deeper on this topic I touched on it back in post #33 - Wrong Stories Wrap Up: I Screw Up My Life Believing Things That Aren’t True. There I talked about how my hesitance to jump on an unpleasant decision allowed an infection to spread and eventually cost someone else their job. Shame on me.