Making Hard Choices
We All Have to Do It, Here’s How
A lot of the advice I give in my blog posts assumes that you’re working in an ideal situation, but oftentimes you aren’t – and you may not have the time or resources needed to execute things perfectly. As leaders, sometimes we have to cut features in a product, remove resources, and are put in situations where there’s not much of a choice at all. Our options don’t always line up with the best solution. You’re the one in charge, so you have to do something, but it may not be an easy choice. This is the not-so-fun part of being a leader.
So, when you do have to make a hard choice, how do you do it? The answer: with the best intent. If you feel uneasy about a choice at hand, be honest with yourself and the others you’re working with. While you don’t want to overwhelm others with unnecessary information, you do want to be translucent. Being open and honest doesn’t fix everything, though. Sometimes a business decision has to be made, and things don’t work out the way you want them to. Some people will be angry at you – especially if they’re being let go. That said, you can still try to better the situation. Give the outgoing employee as much advice as possible, write them references, and help them find another job. Hard choices are hard, but you can still do some good in every difficult situation.
Easier said than done, right? What if you’re working on a project and you’re told by the stakeholders there’s a budgetary constraint and something your team has been working really hard on has to go? It’s bad news – and you still have to keep morale up, continue to execute, and find a solution with a grumpy bunch of creatives. Start by recognizing your team’s hard work in the face of adversity and do your best to refocus their attitude around the positives . If that doesn’t work, sometimes you have to Eat That Frog first knowing the reward will come later.
Also, be good to yourself when you have to make tough decisions. Schedule some kind of personal mental health time shortly after. You need to deal with the repercussions of said decision first, of course (you still have a responsibility), but don’t forget about your responsibility to you. If you can’t take time off immediately, then make sure you don’t work overtime. Have some personal boundaries.
Everyone is put in situations where they have to make hard choices, but if you find yourself constantly dealing with what seem like no-win situations, consider whether you should leave that organization. Is it you or your environment that’s causing these issues? What’s the common denominator? You should always try to improve the workspace you’re in as much as possible, but sometimes places are happy being toxic and don’t want to change. Make sure you know the difference and act accordingly.
Have you had to make a hard choice recently? How did you do it? How did it turn out? Let me know in the comments below or tell me 1-on-1!