The 3 Types of Decisions in HR

This past weekend I watched Dolphin Tale 2 with my family.  Not the blockbuster that will make big dollars, but really and truly, an enjoyable movie.  It is about a Dolphin who was rescued in Clearwater, Florida.  Our family actually went to Clearwater and saw  “Winter” the dolphin a couple of years ago.  It is pretty amazing that they were able to save and rescue a dolphin without a tail and were able to come up with a prosthetic tail to help her.

The boy that had the relationship with the dolphin was given the opportunity to go to a 12 week offshore program to learn more about dolphins.  He was hesitant and Ashley Judd, his mother in the movie, came in to talk to her son.  She said something that really stuck with me.  She said: “Sometimes we just need to make decisions.  You may not know you are making the right or wrong decision at that particular moment in time, but at least you made a decision”.  I thought about how that statement relates to the HR profession.

The 3 Types of Decisions in HR

HR professionals are analytical.  We love data and we aren’t quick to make a decision.  I have been a part of many organizations and some make decisions quickly, some take way too long to make a decision, and some can never make a decision.  These 3 decisions can effect the organization and how they are run.

The “No Decision”

I guess there is nothing that frustrates me more than the “no decision”.  It is okay to have the decision be “not at this time”, but to make a “no decision” because of a lack of consensus kills organizations.  I wish we had a crystal ball and we knew exactly how things are going to work out, but we don’t.  We are in the people business, the economy is what it is and we can make educated guesses on what is going to happen, but to not make a decision because you are analyzing too much data will only hurt you in the long run.

The Quick Decision

Sometimes in HR we are forced to make decisions quickly.  We know if we don’t move on something right away our budgets will be slashed.  We have to move quickly to make sure we get what we want.  We are also forced by other business units to make decisions quickly because of a domino effect.  If we don’t make a decision to hire this sales person today  then there won’t be someone in that role to sell our product that will effect our earnings for Q4.  Have you ever heard of that?  Of course you have.  Sometimes we make decisions on the data we have available today and we don’t have the luxury to think about it for a long time.  I actually admire people who make quick decisions.

The Decision That Took Too Long

I have to say I see this type of decision all to often in HR.  We are trying to get the buy in from everyone and in turn are frustrating everyone along the way.  We are frustrating our business partners, clients, candidates, and ultimately bringing down the morale of the organization and hurting the recruitment process because we aren’t able to attract the right candidates because  we are getting a bad reputation in the market place.  When recruiting, to get 15 peoples buy in on hiring someone and have 1 person not be completely sure is downright ridiculous.

So.. What kinds of decisions get made in your organization.  Think about it a minute and do an honest intake.

What do I think is right?  I think Ashley Judd is 100% right.  As  I look back on life and my career, I know I have not made all of the right decisions.  I have made some mistakes.  The one thing I am proud of though, is I have always made some sort of decision.  The truth lies somewhere in the middle.  You need to make a well educated, and thought out decision but really need to avoid the “no decision” or the decision that took too long.

What are your thoughts?

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Will Thomson

Will Thomson lives in Austin, Texas, and works for Rosetta Stone as the global sales and marketing recruiter. He has been in recruitment and sales for 20 years. He has recruited some of the most sought-after talent around the globe, and is a regular blogger for the recruitment industry. Connect with Will.

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  1. Laura Matrisciano says

    Great points and nicely written Will. Too many companies get stalled and unable to move forward with projects, plans, strategies, etc, due to individuals lacking the ability to “make a decision”. The only wrong decision is the one you didn’t make.


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