Updates and advice for attorneys and law departments.

9 Ways to Improve Your Team’s Decision Making Skills

To reach your law firm or legal department’s business objectives, placing one person in charge of decision-making isn’t enough. The organization needs each team member to be able to make sound decisions in line with the organization’s overall goals.

Here are nine tools that law firms and legal departments can teach their team members to help make better decisions:

1.      Do a cost-benefit analysis.

When comparing two options, list the pros and cons of taking each path. The list can often be done in your head for simple decisions, or it can be written down for a better perspective on more complex options.

2.      Think proportionally.

How big is the impact of the decision to be made? The bigger the impact, the easier it is to justify spending more time and effort on making the decision. For instance, if a decision will set the course of the team’s work for the next year, it’s worth using several different decision-making techniques to evaluate it before settling on one choice.

3.      Don’t sweat the small stuff.

Conversely, if a decision has very little impact on the firm’s objectives or the team as a whole, practice making it quickly and without too much worry. For instance, where to go for lunch is often a decision that can be made within a few seconds.

4.      Narrow the field of options.

Analysis paralysis can set in when we’re faced with too many options. The more options appear on the table, the harder it is to work through an analysis of them. In this situation, consider eliminating one or more options from the list, even if they’re potentially viable. Then, focus on the remaining possibilities.

5.      Do some homework.

Sometimes, making the best possible decision depends on knowing the answer to certain key questions or on having essential background information. In these situations, don’t hesitate to do some research before settling on an answer. This tool is particularly helpful when the reason you hesitate to decide is that you’d decide one way if a fact turned out to be X, and another way if it turned out to be Y.

6.      Think win-win.

When making decisions that affect an entire team or organization, avoid thinking of them as a zero-sum game. Instead, look for ways to give as many parties as possible what they want from the decision or exchange.

7.      Make a plan.

Reduce conflict on your team in the future by incorporating decision-making into your planning process. Make a choice, then build a plan around it, so everyone knows what their role in the bigger picture is.

8.      Step up when needed.

Sometimes, you have to make a choice, whether or not you feel prepared to do so. Focus on reaching a point where you feel you can adequately defend one decision or the other, even if it goes wrong.

9.      Ask for a second opinion.

When all else fails, find someone whose experience and knowledge can help you make a better decision, and ask for their advice. This person may be inside the firm, or they may be a professional from another field.

At Assigned Counsel®, our attorney recruiters help law firms and legal departments rethink their staffing strategies so you always have the qualified talent you need when you need it. To learn more, contact us today.


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