How to Make an Informed Decision (Plus Benefits and Skills)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 16 October 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

When making a crucial decision, it's helpful to first perform research to gather in-depth knowledge to make an informed choice. Being able to make sound decisions is a vital leadership quality and highlights your ability to think objectively. Learning how to make an informed choice can help you grow in confidence in choosing the right option. In this article, we define what an informed decision is, provide steps on how to make an informed choice and share a list of decision-making skills.

What is an informed decision?

An informed decision is a choice that people make after assessing risks and collecting all the relevant information they need. This type of decision-making involves analysing the potential scenarios and focuses on the risks and benefits of each option. After reviewing all the factors involved with each option, you then decide on which option is the most suitable for your needs and helps you to achieve your goals.

For example, if you're in charge of looking for a new office space to rent for the company, it's important to consider various factors such as location, accessibility, costs and available facilities. If the company requires storage space for goods before delivery, then it's necessary to ensure that the new office space can meet this need. After considering each of the factors and comparing different venues, you can propose a place that satisfies most or all of the conditions.

How to make an informed decision

Follow these steps to help you make an informed decision:

1. Identify the issue

The first step is to correctly identify the problem that you want to solve. Reflect on what you want to change or achieve and the obstacles that are preventing you from accomplishing your goals. Make sure that you're specific about the issue you're facing before moving on to the next step. For example, there may be a high turnover rate at your workplace and as an HR executive, you may want to increase retention rates.

2. Collect data

After identifying the issue, start gathering information by talking to people in the office who have the most knowledge of the subject matter. You may also consult those in your network who are industry experts to gain an in-depth understanding of the topic or speak to your mentor as they may have encountered similar issues in the past. Good decision-making requires having sufficient information to understand the issue from different angles and to analyse all the possible outcomes.

Asking the right questions can also offer you more insight into each decision. Here are some questions that you can ask yourself and others:

  • How does this change affect me?

  • How will this decision impact me and my team in the short-term and long-term?

  • What are the specific options available?

  • What are the benefits of each option?

  • What are the negative effects of each option?

  • When is the best time to make a decision?

Related: 10 Most Essential Data Analysis Skills

3. Conduct research

Using the information you collected in the previous step, brainstorm all the possible alternatives and think of as many solutions as you can. Then, do research to understand the outcome of each option. You can collect data from market research, academic studies or articles from those who have experience in handling the same issue to help you get all the relevant information you need.

Related: Research Skills: Definition, Examples and Importance

4. Compare the alternatives

With a list of potential solutions, analyse each option and create a list of the pros and cons of each decision. Then, compare the lists together to decide which option is the best. You can also use a decision tree or flowchart to help you in this process. Make sure that you also compare the options with the current situation to ensure that there's going to be a real change.

Related: What Is Analysis Paralysis? (Plus Steps to Overcome It)

5. Make a decision

After analysing and comparing the lists, make a decision. Remember to consider all the research you've done and review the list of questions you've asked yourself and others in the process. You may choose to make the final decision with a colleague so that you can get their feedback and support. Give them details of each option, such as the variables, the positive and negative impacts of the decision and the various outcomes. They may point out certain aspects which you may not have realised which can help affirm your decision.

After deciding on the solution, it's important to create a plan on how you're going to implement it. Convey your decision to your team and encourage them to implement the plan.

Related: How to Avoid Decision Fatigue in 10 Steps (Plus Examples)

6. Review the decision

After some time has passed, analyse the results of your decision. Consider the impact the decision has had on you, the team and the company and list all the positive and negative outcomes. It's important to remain objective in this process. If you feel like you made a wrong choice, go through each step in the process to identify the reason. Reviewing your decisions can improve your decision-making skills and enable you to make better choices in the future. Here are some questions you can consider asking:

  • Did your decision achieve the results you expected?

  • Did you collect sufficient information?

  • Are there ongoing processes that require changes to improve the results?

Benefits of making informed decisions

Here are reasons detailing the benefits of collecting information before making a decision:

  • Builds confidence: Conducting research and evaluating options before making a decision can help you feel more confident that you're making the right choice.

  • Provides realistic expectations: As you review the risks and benefits of each option, you get a more realistic overview of the potential scenarios and can be better prepared for any negative impacts.

  • Helps to learn about alternatives: When conducting research and exploring solutions, you may learn about new options that you may not have considered previously.

Related: Decision-Making Skills: Definition and Examples for Leaders

Decision-making skills

Here are decision-making skills that you can cultivate to improve in this area:

  • Problem-solving: Problem-solving entails considering different viewpoints and being able to observe challenges and solutions objectively. With these skills, you can focus on the important details and make decisions more effectively.

  • Leadership: With strong leadership skills, you can guide brainstorming sessions effectively and motivate your team members to work together towards a common solution. Prioritise building relationships with your team members to improve the team dynamics.

  • Teamwork: You may collaborate with your colleagues to brainstorm the best options to solve problems. You can learn about the different perspectives from your colleagues and explore options you may not have thought of yourself.

  • Intuition: Intuition is about trusting in your instincts, which are based on your past experiences and values. It's important to pair your instincts with logical thinking to ensure that your decision is feasible.

  • Emotional intelligence: Emotional intelligence refers to an awareness of your emotions and the ability to express them in a healthy and appropriate way. This can help you communicate your ideas effectively and inspire solutions.

  • Creativity: You can use your creativity to generate unique approaches and solutions to problems. It can also be instrumental during brainstorming sessions as you can encourage others to think creatively and this can lead to greater participation in the problem-solving process and more innovative solutions.

  • Time management: This is especially important in high-pressure situations where it's necessary to make an urgent decision as it can help you to prioritise tasks and keep track of key deadlines. With strong time management skills, you can make multiple decisions simultaneously and prepare status reports so that your team and supervisor are up to date on the problems and solutions.

  • Organisation: Organisational skills empower you to identify the different aspects of the problem and assign tasks to team members effectively. It also helps in meeting deadlines and handling several projects at once.

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