Making the Difficult Choice

What is the hardest choice you have ever had to make?  I think back over my life and have a few that I an remember.  One of my more difficult choices involved leaving the United States Naval Academy when I was 18 years of age.  Another was having to discharge an employee while I worked for one of the organizations I was part of many years ago.  There have been many others.  I dread making tough choices, but choices not made only perpetuate challenges that will never go away.  

How do you make tough choices?  What steps do you go through when you have to decide whether to stay with the "status quo" or move ahead in a new direction?  Let me share some thoughts about how I proceed and I invite you to reply with what works for you.

1.  Is the current situation causing discomfort or distracting from the progress of others within the organization?  If the answer is yes, I then consider how the change might affect others both within and outside of the firm.  If after reviewing these issues I see that there is more good than bad with making the change, I know it is time to move ahead.

2.  Are you getting feedback from others wondering why things are the way they are?  This has happened often in my career and this stems more from my interest in keeping all happy versus doing what needs to be done when things get difficult.  If others continually question why things are they way they are, this may be a good reason to review the current situation.

3.  Is the performance of the entity or the individual meeting expectations?  One of the major issues I sometimes have is not having enough measurable criteria in place to determine if something or someone is meeting the need as discussed.  I have found that if I set the expectations up front, the long term direction is much more predictable and changes are not surprises when they occur.

There you have three ways to decide if changes should be made.  While making the change may not be any more pleasant, having gone through these three steps removes the drama and suspense when change does occur.  I have also found that others involved with change often have the same reservations and are relieved when the change occurs.  This makes the transition more manageable for both sides.

Don't be afraid to make changes.  Without change, we would all still be riding in covered wagons and listening to our vacuum tube radios.

On second thought, that doesn't sound so bad….:)