Decision Making – How To Make Good Decisions

Decision Making Questions You Can Use Today

If you haven’t already encountered this, you will do at some point in your management career. Indeed, you might be doing this already – not making a decision on an important matter.
Indecision Is A Decision

Decision making trainingAt work, there is likely to be an occasion or two when you want to get a decision from someone. It could be a commitment from a person who is performing below par and needs to raise their game, or your boss who has a hundred different decisions to make, and bosses to please, so the decision you require keeps getting delayed.

Here are a few questions you can ask to help someone making a (good) decision.
What information do you require (from me or from elsewhere) to make a decision now/today?’
This question helps the person think about what they need, not what you are offering and helps them be more response-able for their thinking.If you had already made the most appropriate decision on this (subject) what information, data and other factors would you have considered to reach your decision?’
This question puts them in the position of having already made the decision and takes a different thinking position. Acting ‘AS IF‘ is a very effective thinking technique.Could you please help me understand what stops you from making a decision/approving my decision?’
This question helps to unblock thinking and may draw out sensitive information or even a blind spot.If your Manager was advising you of what decision to make that was good for all stakeholders, what would s/he recommend to you?’
This question gets the person to consider what their boss would appreciate and disapprove of. Bear in mind, people often comply with authority, so it’s essential the decision is not made purely on position in a structure chart.
What currently stops you from making a good decision now?’
how to make good decisionsYou may find that their indecision relates to an internal issue such as ‘I’m not feeling confident‘ or ‘If I get this decision wrong, my boss will go crazy‘, or it could be an external decision such as ‘The data I need to make a good decision isn’t yet available‘ or ‘The deadline is still two hours away so I’m going to wait’. When you have identified whether it’s an internal or external motivating factor, you can explore the reason/s in more detail.
What would your most trusted colleague advise you to do if s/he was aware of this situation and your indecision?
This question creates some head space for your colleague. Instead of asking ‘What are you doing to do?’, the question relates to a trusted third-party. When the trusted third-party becomes involved, your colleague will be able to view their situation or predicament more clearly, and with less emotion and fear.
Help People Think For Themselves
An unwillingness to make a decision is a decision in itself. If you are to help people make better quality decisions, and more quickly, you must provide them with the time and space to think for themselves.

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One To One Personal Coaching

Expert One To One Personal Coaching Focused Entirely On YOU…

A One To One Personal Coaching Session can help you to:-

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Customers Service Training That Delivers a ‘WOW’

Forget customer service. In it’s most basic terms, it’s definition can be ‘What our organisation thinks our customers want‘. And throw aside the current buzz phrase of ‘customer satisfaction‘ too. Why? Well, because your customers WANT more and possibly DESERVE more than plain old ‘satisfaction‘. Shouldn’t ‘satisfaction‘ be an entry point for attracting and retaining customers, rather than somehow a final destination?

In this article, I’m going to share with you how you can ‘WOW’ your potential and existing customers. You can even WOW your peers, internal customers, stakeholders and other parties too by applying these straightforward approaches, tools and techniques. And, the bonus for you is…..THEY WON’T RUIN YOUR HARD EARNED BUDGET as they are all completely FREE! Worth reading on?

The postcard which accompanies this article was the nice surprise I received upon arrival at a hotel following a long and tiring journey from the UK to Bahrain in 2008. This trip was my fourth to the Radisson Diplomat Hotel and upon entering my room, Room 914, on my pillow in a Radisson BLU branded envelope.

This postcard was inside the envelope. What a wonderful, authentic welcome from the hotel’s Executive Assistant Manager, Mr Alex Willats. Alex has since gone on to run award winning hotels in Thailand and Singapore – and with his approach to communicating and serving customers, it’s easy to understand why! There’s a media article featuring Alex further down this article for you to enjoy.

Good Practice – Is It Really Good Enough These Days? 

OK, you may be thinking ‘Well a postcard welcoming you back is just ‘good practice’ if he knew you were returning.’ The key point here is…he didn’t know! I hadn’t been in contact with Alex for more than six months. My reservation was made through the hotel’s reservation team who, having spotted my previous visits asked ‘Mr Watson, you stay in room 914 a lot. Is that your favourite room, or would you like us to allocate you a different room with an even nicer view…also, without an adjoining door?’

Long story short. Someone in Reservations remembered my preferences (a pool view, ideally with a sunset, no adjoining door…as noisy neighbours can be really noisy when an adjoining door is involved) and then, thought to let the Executive Assistant Manager know of my visit. Good eh? It gets better.

Having taken a refreshing shower, I heard my room phone ringing. It’s the Restaurant Manager, a genuinely friendly Indian gentleman whose name I forget, who says excitedly, ‘Mr Watson, welcome back to your home in Bahrain. May I invite you to join us for dinner this evening, or if you are tired, I am very happy to arrange room service for you. Which would you prefer?’ Well, with an invitation so genuine, and refreshed from my shower, of course, why would I not wish to enjoy his hospitality and great food? But it didn’t stop there.

You Don’t Even Need To Speak The Same Language To WOW

The next morning, ahead of a busy day of business meetings, I decided to have a swim in the outdoor pool under the blistering sun. Within just a few seconds of my exiting the hotel building and heading towards the pool, a pool life guard named Ramu, from Kerala, quickly approached me with a big smile and in his heavy Indian accent and broken English said ‘Welcome back Mister Scott, I happy welcome you.’

Following a firm and friendly handshake, he then ushered me towards what he remembered (from 10 months previous) was my ‘favourite spot’ by the pool. And it was. Despite Ramu’s lack of English language skills, he asked me about my family, told me about his young daughter and how she was growing, and much more. Before I sat on the sun lounger, Ramu picked up the perfectly good towels which had already been placed on the lounger, jogged off to his little office, returning with what appeared to be even fluffier, bigger towels. Not at all expected or needed by me, BUT, RAMU WANTED to make my pool visit as special as he possibly could. He’s a life guard…NOT in Guest Relations…but he still ‘WOW’ed!

See, even when people don’t speak the same language, you can still have a ‘WOW’ experience.

But let’s move on from the Radisson in Bahrain and explore some other instances of ‘WOW’s’ and ‘Ouch’s’.


Have you ever visited a restaurant, store or hotel and been greeted with ‘Welcome‘ and you just knew the employee was saying the words, but not really feeling the love? Strangely, one supermarket has employees who officially hold a job title of ‘Greeter’. The sash worn over the shoulder may be positive in its intent, but perhaps doesn’t present the best brand image.

Have you ever visited a restaurant, ordered more than two meals for your party, and at least one meal (supposed to be a hot meal) turns up cold, or at best lukewarm? This happened to my family last weekend, and we were three of only five diners in the restaurant! At breakfast time.

When this happens, are you too polite to mention your situation to the waiter or waitress? Do you mention it and then the Manager politely offers to ‘Make another one for you, right away‘? Does the Manager offer to remove the cost of the cold meal from your bill as a ‘gesture of goodwill‘, even though goodwill disappeared as soon as your meal appeared cold, which then took the focus away from enjoying your time together, and on to the people in your group offering you some of their meal? Perhaps when this happens to you next time….and it will at some point, politely advise the Manager that ‘I’ve come here today/tonight to eat WITH my friends/family, not AFTER them‘. Then be silent. You may soon find a greater discount is soon offered.

When you call the ‘Helpline’ for your bank, does the automated voice mention to you that ‘Your call is important to us‘, but never lets you know an estimated time that you will actually speak to a human being, rather than listen to ‘the voice’ which lacks empathy, or caller focus? If MY call is so important to YOU, please pick up the phone!!

Enough of my ranting. Let’s explore how you can ensure your prospective and existing customers can experience a ‘WOW’ rather than an ‘OUCH’.

1. Do What You Say You Will Do….Consistently.

Don’t under promise and over deliver. That approach lacks integrity, is intentionally misleading, and perhaps even dishonest in some cases. Tell your customer what to expect, when to expect it, and if there’s some form of delay expected, give them a timeframe for the delivery of what they are trusting you to deliver. Customers are usually understanding and patient IF you keep them informed.

2. Stop Using Lazy Language

‘Just one minute’, ‘I’ll be with you in a moment’ or the ever popular ‘ASAP’ are lazy language and can cause conflict – and lose your organisation customers. If you want something from me ‘ASAP’, you might want it in five minutes, and not a second later. ‘ASAP’ for me in my brain may mean up to thirty minutes, or even by the end of the day, because I have other priorities to focus on…for more important people than you.

Clarify ‘What do you actually mean by ASAP? Is it five minutes, ten minutes or something else?’. Easy to do and can help avoid a big headache.

3. Be Empathic

Forget the supermarket ‘Greeter’. Just encourage your colleagues to listen first, understand second, then, and only then, provide the guidance, information or service the customer actually WANTS rather than guessing based on your own experience and personal bias. My recent experience at a supermarket checkout raised a giggle when the female checkout assistant asked the customer in front of my in the queue “May I help you with your packing?” which is of course helpful. Then when it was my turn to be served she innocently asked “Do you need some help with your packing?” Notice the difference? Is she implying I am not capable of packing bags? That I NEED help rather than, might just appreciate help?

People warm to people who, as well as being technically competent, are genuinely friendly. Try it with your team and you’ll soon notice the positive difference.

4. Give Them A Free Upgrade

OK, this isn’t giving away freebies at will. If you’re a restaurant and there’s a young child in the guests party, is a colouring picture, jigsaw or other extremely low cost offering available?

If you’re a hotel and the guest’s room isn’t yet available, even though it should be, is it too much to ask for you to offer an upgraded room and/or facilities, just on this occasion? Not as a ‘Gesture of Goodwill’, but just because you want to WOW your guests, and perhaps they’ll love you for it, return again, even write a very positive online Tripadvisor review?

5. Ask The Question ‘What more can I do for you today to help you enjoy……?

This simple question has proved powerful in helping client organisations step in to their customer’s world, rather than expecting the customer to step in to the organisation’s. It’s empathic, it’s genuine, it’s respectful and, it provides you with more opportunities to serve the very person or people who are responsible for your organisation existing. And, it leaves nothing to chance and removed potentially dangerous, guesswork.

6. Do More Than Your Bit – Collaborate

So many issues and OUCH’s appear because one person believe s/he has done their bit, and they automatically, perhaps wrongly, expect other team members to do their bit too. If only it was that easy. Effective collaboration is such a powerful skill to possess within any organisation, that the absence of it creates, and maintains silo thinking, silo working, disjointed communication and – PROBLEMS!

Your organisation is packed full of what should be healthy, inter-dependent relationships. If it isn’t? You have some work to do. Perhaps take a leaf out of Alex’s book and Go Back To The Floor?


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Korean Airlines – What Can You Learn From This?

Korean Air executive Ms Heather Cho reportedly delayed the departure of a flight she was on due to the fact that she didn’t like or approve of the way a cabin crew member served her peanuts.

Apparently, the company’s standard (for First Class passengers at least) was that nuts should be presented to the passenger on a plate, rather than simply in a bag. Being served a bag of nuts appears to have cause so much aggravation for Ms Cho that she ordered the pilot in charge to return the aircraft to the gate so that the offending and ‘incapable‘ junior cabin crew member could be removed.

Alongside Ms Cho’s behaviour, her claim that the pilot supported her decision and subsequent action do draw out some interesting learning points in terms of leadership and impact. Those key points being:-

  • Ms Cho’s behaviour may have been well intended in terms of communicating a company standard to an employee, but the manner in which she communicated her point was both divisive and destructive.
  • The apparently junior cabin crew member perhaps shouldn’t have been exposed to First Class, high ticket price passengers so soon in to their career as, alongside the many kind, generous and understanding First Class passengers, there is often one or two who find any opportunity to kick up a fuss, or find an easy target victim to remind staff who pays their wages.
  • Ms Cho now faces legal action due to her decision and behaviour breaching international air safety standards and legislation. Ouch!

Automatic Compliance Is To Be Expected

The pilot’s apparent support for Ms Cho’s decision to return to the departure gate is to be expected, isn’t it? The company owners daughter gives you (the professional in command of the aircraft and passenger safety) an instruction, and even though she holds no jurisdiction or seniority in terms of the aircraft itself, refusing to follow her order could be a very creative way of losing your job.

It’s All Feedback

The manner in which a boss, however senior or junior, provides feedback to employees below their position in a structure chart massively impacts whether your people will work with you, or against you. Ms Cho, and possibly many other leaders and managers don’t seriously consider the impact they have on employees. The facial expressions, gestures, words and voice tone you use, all have an impact on the people around you, whether positively or negatively. In this case, the impact was anything but positive!

Bad Decisions Cost Money

Causing an 11 minute delay to the aircraft, will no doubt cost Korean Air thousands of dollars in airport fines and fuel costs. The likelihood of these costs and other day to day waste through inefficient working and toxic leadership being covered by increased passenger fares? Very likely. Plus, with the threat of legal action pending, the decision made by this executive could cost the airline millions.

Toxic Behaviour Poisons The Workforce

This very real situation just goes to show that when an ‘Executive’ demonstrates toxic behaviour towards, and in front of employees, it creates an environment where news travels fast. And in this case it did…globally. It hasn’t, and probably won’t, become clear as to whether Ms Cho, who has now resigned from her executive post, was appointed because she had demonstrated technical competence, commercial awareness and true leadership qualities, or whether she was appointed to her executive role because daddy owns the airline!

How About You?

Are you aware of the impact you have on your team members, collectively and individually? Might there be one or two that you don’t invest time in supporting as they just don’t fit with your view of the world? If there are one or two, perhaps they are deserving of your attention and support? Virtually anybody can manage ‘good’ people, but the real investment is often required in the relationships that aren’t going too well.

Are you acutely aware of how you impact your team members? The words you use, your voice tone, your facial expressions and gestures? If you think you absolutely are….I invite you to ask a few trusted colleagues who will give you some candid feedback, to give you some candid feedback. Albeit unwittingly, as you spend 24 hours each day behind your face, you don’t get to see what others see. Such feedback can really help you grow as a Manager, and move you towards achieving the elusive top 1% bracket.

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Emotional Intelligence And You

Are you a manager who enjoys being around people, thrives on developing positive relationships with your peers, your boss, stakeholders and your team members? Or are you the kind of manager who would prefer to avoid the ‘touchy feely’ aspects of management, preferring to focus on analysing data, designing processes, reviewing systems and auditing quality?

Relax. Whichever is your preference, there isn’t a right or wrong answer. With many managers being promoted largely, or purely, on their technical expertise in a non people management role, to ensure a healthy and meaningful management career, it is worth exploring and investing in, the softer, deeply human aspects of people management, motivation, engagement and coaching. Why? Because if you want to enjoy what is commonly deemed ‘discretionary effort’ from your team members, you need to possess at least a reasonable level of Emotional Intelligence.


What Is Emotional Intelligence?

In a nutshell, Emotional Intelligence explores how we manage our own emotions, and how we help other people to manage theirs.’

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Poor Performance Is No Accident

Managing a poor performer is one of the most frustrating, draining and time consuming activity you as a manager will need to deal with.  If you have already had to deal with a poor performance issue, you’ll already know how challenging it can be, time wise and emotionally.

Poor performance can occur for many reasons; some of the most common reasons including:-

The individual is not capable or technically competent at a task, so cannot perform to the required standard.

The good news is, you can work with this, on the job coaching and peer to peer coaching is a fantastic way to help a team member improve their competence and reach the required standard, quickly and with low time investment.

The individual is not willing to perform to the required standard, however much you attempt to support, coaching and manage him or her will not help purely because s/he won’t accept it.

The bad news is, in this instance, your energy, focus, time and motivation are tested to the limit.  Other team members who perhaps deserve your attention, coaching and support may tend to not get it, purely because, alongside you having to deliver multiple projects to ridiculously tight deadlines, the ‘poor performer’ is getting the attention.

The Challenge

If a team members is flat out refusing to perform, rather than not being able to perform, how should you address the issue?  When is enough, really enough?  When should your HR Manager (if your organisation has one) get involved?  How do you minimise the potential for a tough talk becoming a stand-off, or full blown battle of personalities?  Here are a few thoughts from what we have repeatedly witnessed working in client organisations.

Firstly, explore whether the challenge is ‘can’t do’ or ‘won’t do’.  Understanding which of these applies is your first step to understanding whether structured coaching support is required and helpful, or whether the issue is more one of attitude.

For ‘can’t do’, discuss and agree what specific coaching on which specific task, skill or competence is required.  Step out of your own shoes as an under pressure manager, step in to your team member’s shoes and design your support to equip your colleague with tools they need, rather than just what you think they need.

For ‘won’t do’, follow Steven Covey’s recommendation by ‘Seeking first to understand, and then be understood’.  However emotive the ‘won’t do’ issue may be, however unacceptable the individual’s behaviour and attitude may be, manage your focus and ask ‘Just so I can understand your reason/s for not wanting to perform to the standard the organisation expects of you, please will you write them down and then share them with me?’  Why is this approach so effective?  Firstly, you may receive some feedback you normally wouldn’t have; this may include feedback about you, your personal impact, management style or communication approach which your team member doesn’t welcome or appreciate.  This is valuable feedback…if it isn’t given in an ‘attack’ mindset.

Secondly, when you ask your colleague to write down their reason/s for under performing, this creates emotional pressure to actually commit in ink, information it would be rather difficult for him or her to withdraw at any point in the future.  Remember, your role and intention is not to undermine or catch out your colleague, but to understand his or her reason/s for not performing as they trusted to do, and implement a practical and worthwhile improvement plan.

Know when to involve your HR team and line manager.  In most cases of ‘won’t do’, it is best to involve HR and line manager earlier rather than later in the process.  Even if involving them is just to help them understand an issue which requires and deserves resolving exists. Don’t for a moment believe that resolving the issue on your own is the best thing to do with the ‘I’m the manager…I’ll resolve it’ attitude.

Such commendable commitments have fallen foul of hr policy and legislation in the past – and you really don’t want to be on that list!  Instead, check your HR policy and procedures and be guided by them.  Doing the process correctly may take a little time, but don’t rush the process; instead, let the process take its course.

Ask your ‘won’t do’ and ‘can’t do’ colleagues, ‘If there were two things I could do to support you to improve your effectiveness, what would they be?’  This authentic, somewhat surprising question begins to focus their brain on solutions, collaboration and, transparent dialogue.  When you have asked the question, just be quiet, and listen.  Don’t feel the need or urge to cover any awkward silence from your colleague.  S/he may just be thinking and reflecting.  When answers and solutions do begin to appear, collaborate to agree a course of action, and share responsibility for turning around the current level of performance.

Yes, this is all easier said than done..But it can be done!  And you’ll be able to focus more on doing the few things that really matter, rather than the many things that don’t.

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