The hardest part of a managerial role is making decisions that have a significant impact on your company. Act with integrity - and don’t be afraid to make mistakes, says Petra Cook

Decisions are a key part of any manager’s day-to-day activities. Just look at Morrisons, which has decided to put 60,000 staff through a 13-week training programme to teach them customer service best practice and ensure delivery of a consistent strategy in-store. The reasoning behind this move is to develop better in-store standards that should help the retailer increase customer numbers and spend.
The magnitude of this strategic decision should not be underestimated. The value of the workforce, which is perhaps best described as the DNA of most organisations, is acknowledged as one of the major differentiating sources of strategic advantage any organisation can have.
Employees are the lifeblood of an organisation and their actions determine the extent of success.
So Morrisons should be admired for its commitment to developing employees and strengthening the internal brand.
But the key point is that, no matter what your level of management, you will be required to make decisions on behalf of your team, colleagues or company and how you make those decisions will impact heavily on how your career develops.
Leadership is all about making
decisions - as the head of a team or organisation you are looked upon to provide a clear purpose and give direction. But decisions are not easy and you need to be prepared and informed in order to get them right.
The last thing anyone should do is leave decisions to chance. Weigh up the pros and cons and think about the long-term effects - will your decision give you the results you are looking for? What information do you require to help you?
Whether the issue is about who to recruit or promote, what training programme to use in order to address skills shortages or how to resolve conflict, the need to be able to reach the right conclusion is vital.
Each of your decisions will be crucial to your team’s success and will need to be carefully considered. Many tools exist to help you get there - SWOT and Pareto analysis are just two examples - but how you use these is as important as whether you use them.
A survey due out shortly by the Chartered Management Institute will examine the way in which managers in the retail sector make their decisions. It will show that some leaders prefer the consultative method while others prefer to give more direction. Since every manager has different ways of working, a prescriptive approach to making decisions will not work. Each decision presents its own challenges and making the correct choices can be tough even for the most experienced leaders.
Many people find decision-making one of the hardest parts of their working day. They worry about whether they will make the right decision, what others will think of the route they choose and what impact it will have. But surely, both these issues point to a simple conclusion.
Namely, that it is high time managers took responsibility for the decisions they have to make because the impact on the rest of the organisation can be immense. Deciding who to promote, for example, can literally change the lives of those in the running and can either increase team performance or have a negative impact, depending on who you choose.
Make sure that you communicate your decisions fully to those who may be affected. Failure to do so will lead to confusion, low morale, errors and mismanaged expectations. If there are any problems, this will help you to iron them out earlier on in the process, rather than waiting until a crisis occurs.
Ultimately, don’t be afraid to make a mistake. As managers aim to keep budgets and deadlines under control, a rare mistake can provide an extremely helpful learning opportunity. If you act with integrity and stay consistent with the values of the organisation, others are more likely to respect you and stand by your decisions. After all, you may not always get things right, but so long as you can learn from your mistakes your career will progress and develop.
n Petra Cook is head of Public Affairs, Chartered Management Institute