Difficult Decision

By Tracy MacDonald
Nov 2018

In business, difficult decisions are made every day. They can be at any level, effect a few or many people, require immediate action or a delayed response. In the end, those affected by the result of the difficult decision may be able to understand where it’s coming from, but that doesn’t make the situation any easier for them. As a leader, the way you manage the delivery of this decision can contribute to your brand, your future workforce, and your growth and productivity following these changes. If you have never experienced this type of situation personally, here are some strategies that may be useful.

First, once a decision is made, and a plan for executing is laid out, don’t wait any longer than necessary to implement it. As people continue to go about their daily jobs and responsibilities, opportunities will arise, ideas will be put forth, questions about future goals, activities or strategies will materialize. All of these initiatives, strategies, and questions will likely require a response from the management team. If management doesn’t answer, respond or support moving forward, people will know there is an issue. But without knowing exactly what it is, speculation will set in. Speculation leads to rumors, which contribute to uncertainty and a poor working environment, regardless of who is and is not directly affected by the decision. In an effort to avoid making a bad situation worse, we suggest making the decision, implementing it, and getting started on the new plans and initiatives, without unnecessary delays.


Second, own the decision that is made and whatever activities result from that decision. Ideally, any major decision is made as a result of data, information, scenario simulation and forecasting. While impossible to predict everything, we need to trust in our information and plans for the future. There are those who may disagree with your decision or your strategy to execute on those decisions, but as a leader, it is your responsibility to own your decision, stick with the plan and stand by what you anticipate for the future based on those decisions. In other words, don’t allow yourself to be influenced by others after the decision is made, but encourage your management to share any concerns ahead of time.


Third, try a different strategy from what people are expecting. There is a strong possibility that many on your team will have been on the receiving end of difficult decisions previously. As a result, those people will have a pre-conceived notion of what to expect with regard to the impending changes. As a leader, you have an opportunity to handle this event in your own way and in your own style which ideally aligns with positive leadership experience and a healthy relationship with your team. Take advantage of this opportunity to be different and operate in a way that leaves people with nothing bad to say about you or your company. Be professional and be creative.


Your job as a leader is to lead, and this role has many facets. Difficult decisions will be made, change will be inevitable, and your organization will need to reinvent itself several times over to be successful. Your colleagues will have questions and even challenge your strategies and ideas. If you make your decisions known, communicate the strategy behind them, and stand by them, you will be in a position to actively listen without feeling guilty or regretting any part of your strategy. Being open to others will provide an opportunity for communications as well as potential information for the future and will help you to continue to be seen as a leader, not a dictator. The investment we make in human capital, including ourselves, will contribute to our successes professionally as well as personally. We are, after all, people doing jobs.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Enter your email to access your free PDF document