â€¢ Peoplesâ€™ decision-making styles differ along two main dimensions. The first is an individualâ€™s way of thinking. Some of us are more rational and logical in the way we process information. A rational type looks at information and makes sure that itâ€™s logical and consistent before making a decision. Others tend to be intuitive and creative. Intuitive types donâ€™t process information in a certain order but are comfortable looking at it as whole.
â€¢ The other dimension describes an individualâ€™s tolerance to ambiguity. Again, some of us have a low tolerance for ambiguity. These types need consistency and order in the way they structure information so that ambiguity is minimized. On the other hand, some of us can tolerate high levels of ambiguity and are able to process many thoughts at the same time. When we diagram these two dimensions, four decision-making styles are evident: directive, analytic, conceptual, and behavioural. Although these four decision-making styles are distinct, most of people have characteristics of more than one style. Itâ€™s probably more realistic to think of oneâ€™s dominant style and his or her alternative styles. Letâ€™s look closely at each style:
â€¢ Directive style. Decision makers using directive style have low tolerance for ambiguity and are rational in their way of thinking. Theyâ€™re efficient and logical. Directive types make fast decisions and focus on the short run. Their efficiency and speed in making decisions often result in their making decisions with minimal information and assessing few alternatives.
â€¢ Analytic style. Decision-makers with an analytic style have much greater tolerance for ambiguity than directive style. They want more information before making a decision and consider more alternatives than directive style decision-maker does. Analytic decision makers are characterized as careful decision makers with the ability to adopt or cope with unique situations.
â€¢ Conceptual style. Individuals with a conceptual style tend to be very broad in their outlook and look at many alternatives. They focus on the long run and are very good at finding creative solutions to problems.
â€¢ Behavioural style. Decision makers with a behavioural style work well with others. Theyâ€™re concerned about the achievements of those around them and are receptive to suggestions from others. They often use meetings to communicate, although they try to avoid conflict. Acceptance by others is important to this decision-making style.
â€¢ Decision-making styles from the level of participation perspective
â€¢ Leader makes the decision alone & announces to the group members. This style takes little time and no involvement. It is used especially in emergencies where immediate action is critical. Input is not helpful, quick action and immediate compliance is what counts. Unfortunately, some leaders use this level when there is no emergency and more time could be taken to involve others and to use another decision-making style.
â€¢ Leader gathers input from the group members as individuals and decides. The leader seeks input, usually to cover blind spots and enhance their depth of understanding around the issue to be decided. Key individuals hold important information and not consulting them would be foolish.
â€¢ Leader gathers input from the group and decides. Leader holds a group meeting and solicits input from them; he listens to the groupsâ€™ ideas and then takes that information and decides.
â€¢ Group decision-making by consensus building. At this level the leader is part of the group and he/she is just one vote/voice among many. The group processes all the information involved, compromises positions until everyone agrees. Consensus is reached when everyone feels comfortable with the decision, feels like their thoughts and opinions have been heard and everyone agrees to stand behind the decision.
â€¢ Leader delegates the decision-making with criteria/constraints to the group. Leader fully delegates the decision to the group and is not a part of the decision-making discussions. This level requires the leader to be very clear with the group as to what are the criteria/constraints that must be met for their decision to be able to move forward. Failure to meet those criteria could result in the group being sent back to the drawing board or the leader choosing a fall back option and utilize another level for moving the decision forward. The responsible leader should retain the authority of the final approval of the outsourced decision to the group.