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Lead Your Team Personal Growth

3 Tips to Prevent Emotional Decision-Making in the Workplace

Prevent emotional decision-making
Credit: LeonidKos/Shutterstock

Managers are human. They experience anger, jealousy, excitement and other strong feelings. However, in the office, leaders need to control their emotions and prevent them from overpowering their judgment.

For instance, no manager wants to fire a kind employee with a poor work ethic, but it needs to be done for the good of the business. If a boss were to let sympathy lead the way, they'd end up with several workers who get paid to sit at their desk and refresh Instagram all day.

"It is important for managers to recognize that emotions exist and are not always the best guide to making decisions," said Shane Green, author of "Culture Hacker" (Wiley, 2017). "We are often told to go with our gut, but … this may lead to bias and emotions playing too large of a role in the final decision."

Channeling your emotions in business is important, but how you feel shouldn't be the driving factor of how you react. Here's how to prevent emotional decision-making in the workplace.

If you're a fellow list-maker, you know the benefits of writing out your ideas on paper rather than trying to make sense of them in your head. As a manager, you have enough information as it is; take the time to jot down your thoughts and sort through the details before doing or saying something rash.

Green recommended doing this in the form of a pros and cons list. "This will, at the very worst, provide some time for the emotions to recede and, at the very best, provide you with a very logical understanding of the options you have," he said.

When you're invested in a business, it's hard not to be objective about certain issues or concerns. You want what's best for your company and your workers, but your choices won't always reflect this if you're not allowing others to voice their input.

"It is important in highly emotional situations that you are able to rely on outside perspectives – in other words, people not caught up in the emotions of the decision [who can] provide clear insights and ideas," said Green. "This is the rationale behind establishing boards in large companies."

Even though you're the leader, you don't have to decide everything on your own. Green recommended creating a board of advisers who are neutral to the business and its members.

Additionally, nurture a culture that encourages your team to speak up about their opinions and ideas. That way, you'll be more likely to please everyone while also receiving their help.

Good decisions cannot be rushed. While some issues require quicker action than others, you should always take as much time as you're allowed to ensure you're making the right decision.

"When considering a difficult decision, a leader should avoid the first impulse or inclination. In other words, avoid immediately going with your gut," said Green.

Even if you feel pressured to respond right away, don't give in to that negative energy; a slow decision is better than the wrong decision.

"We have seen managers seek to appease the crowd or their team and play off their emotions as justification for making decisions that are not in the company or team's best interests long-term," said Green. "You also see such decision-making happen after a particularly poor financial month or quarter. When leaders are upset or under pressure, they make … a decision that produces a short-term gain or fix, regardless of the consequences down the road."

Don't let your anxiety get the best of you. Each well-thought-out decision is one step closer to getting where you want and need to be.

Sammi Caramela

Sammi Caramela has always loved words. When she isn't working as a Business News Daily and Business.com staff writer, she's writing (and furiously editing) her first novel, reading a YA book with a third cup of coffee, or attending local pop-punk concerts. The only time Sammi doesn't play it safe is when she's writing. Reach her by email, or check out her blog at sammisays.org.