Personal Decision Framework

Imagine  you were a manager at Tom’s of Maine, Boeing Commercial  Airplanes, a local movie theater, or the public library. How would you go about making important deci- sions that might shape the future of your department or company? So far, we have discussed a number  of factors that affect how managers make decisions. For example, decisions may be programmed  or nonprogrammed,  situations are characterized by vari- ous levels of uncertainty,  and managers may use the classical, administrative, or political models of decision making. In addition, the decision-making process follows  six recog- nized steps.

However, not all managers go about making decisions in the same way. In fact, signifi- cant differences distinguish the ways in which individual managers may approach problems and make decisions concerning them. These differences can be explained by the concept of personal decision styles. Exhibit 6.5 illustrates the role of personal style in the decision- making  process. Personal decision style refers to distinctions among people with respect to how they perceive problems and make decisions. Research identified four major decision styles: directive, analytical, conceptual, and behavioral.49

  1. The directive style is used by people who prefer simple, clear-cut solutions to problems. Managers who use this style often make decisions quickly  because they do not like to deal with a lot of information and may consider only one or two alternatives. People who prefer the directive style generally are efficient and rational and prefer to rely on existing rules or procedures for making decisions.
  1. Managers with an analytical style like to consider complex solutions based on as much data as they can gather. These individuals  carefully consider alternatives and often base their decisions on objective, rational data from management control  systems and other sources. They search for the best possible decision based on the information available.
  2. People who tend toward a conceptual style also like to consider a broad amount of infor- mation. However,  they are more socially oriented than those with an analytical style and like to talk to others about the problem and possible alternatives for solving it. Managers using a conceptual style consider many broad alternatives, rely on information from both people and systems, and like to solve problems creatively.
  3. The behavioral style is often the style adopted by managers having  a deep concern  for others as individuals.  Managers using this style like to talk to people one on one and understand their feelings about the problem and the effect of a given  decision  upon them. People with a behavioral  style usually are concerned with the personal develop-ment of others and may make decisions that help others achieve their goals.

Many managers have a dominant  decision style. One example is Jeff Zucker at NBC Entertainment. Zucker uses a primarily conceptual style, which makes him well suited to the television industry. He consults with dozens of programmers about possible new shows and likes to consider many broad alternatives before making decisions.50 However, manag- ers frequently  use several different  styles or a combination  of styles in making the varied decisions they confront  daily. A manager might use a directive  style for deciding on which printing company to use for new business cards, yet shift to a more conceptual style when handling an interdepartmental conflict. The most effective  managers are able to shift among styles as needed  to meet the situation.  Being aware of one’s dominant decision style can help a manager avoid making critical mistakes when his or her usual style may be inap- propriate to the problem at hand.

Source: Daft Richard L., Marcic Dorothy (2009), Understanding Management, South-Western College Pub; 8th edition.

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