Making decisions that go beyond the black and white

From the smallest family businesses to the largest blue-chip companies, all organizations live or die based on the effectiveness and quality of daily decisions. Because decision-making and problem-solving processes are not always straightforward, it’s critical to develop employees’ capacity to maximize the impact of decisions that don’t have a single right answer. 

Employees at all levels are regularly called upon to make decisions and solve problems. This process involves identifying issues and/or evaluating situations, considering alternatives, making choices, and following up with the necessary actions. 

There’s greatness in the gray 

Sometimes, there is an obvious choice that will result in a favorable outcome; other times, when there are multiple options with a range of pros and cons, the process requires more information-gathering and mental reflection. Learning to evaluate and select from these different alternatives is a vital business skill that demands high levels of emotional intelligence. Selecting the best answers often requires meaningful dialog that incorporates feelings, ideas, and different perspectives. Successfully navigating these conversations demands empathy.

making decisions

Self-discovery opens the door to see beyond bias

Our personal experiences, the people in our lives, cultural conditioning, and the media we consume are all factors (along with many others) that affect our biases. The problem with bias is that it can negatively impact our ability to empathize. 

Effective leaders tend to be good listeners and readers of people—put another way, they are emotionally intelligent. They have empathy and the ability to hear what people actually mean, forming patterns and connections that others do not. As they process information, they draw on diverse perspectives and their own self-awareness to understand and address their own biases.

But acknowledging biases doesn’t happen without effort. Biases are often deeply rooted, which means that a process of self-discovery must take place in order to help learners overcome them. Teaching empathy in the workplace starts by encouraging robust dialog in a team environment that helps learners to see past their existing beliefs. 

Training simulations can create safe, collaborative environments that enable learners to become aware of possible biases and see situations from multiple points of view. Exploring a wide range of “gray” possibilities within a group environment encourages learners to debate, self-edit, and come up with the best possible outcome. Sometimes that outcome can have both positive and negative consequences—just as our business decisions in the real world can have wide-ranging ripple effects across the organization and its external customers.

Empowering your employees to embrace the gray

Every company has a clear need to develop their employees’ ability to make good decisions. Issues such as managing teams, balancing business goals with values, and dealing with interpersonal dilemmas rarely come with clear-cut, one-size-fits-all solutions. Traditionally, most big companies would seek to develop these skills in an in-person classroom setting. Today’s business world of remote and hybrid work arrangements has led many businesses to explore alternative delivery methods. 

Blueline’s ExperienceBUILDERTM digital learning design platform delivers training simulations in a team-driven format, without learners having to physically be in the same room to collaborate on the problems presented. But the design platform is just one piece; much of the magic is created by Blueline’s team of front-end alignment consultants, simulation designers, and digital producers.

The simulations produced in ExperienceBUILDER foster emotional intelligence and improve decision-making capabilities by presenting learners with realistic, challenging dilemmas that don’t have a single right answer. Potential solutions weave together a combination of good and bad practices. This format forces learners to engage with one another, dig into the content, chew on it, share experiences, and tease out best practices and common mistakes. Such encounters are where learning really happens and behavior change begins. 

Each simulation is scored on select meters that represent real-world metrics. For example, the metrics for a given scenario might be profitability, employee engagement, and productivity. 

Team-based decisions may have a positive impact on some meters and a negative impact on others—with very real consequences. It’s a rich instructional design approach that maximizes retention and application precisely because learners are engaging with one another other about how best to resolve these complex problems.

Organizations are a product of their people’s decisions

That’s why it’s vital to help your employees develop emotional intelligence and empower them to make better decisions when there aren’t clear “right” or “wrong” answers. Reach out to Blueline to learn more about how we can help you achieve better outcomes by developing your team’s decision-making practices. 

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