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How to Correct a Bad Decision

Have you ever made a bad decision? If we’re honest, we’d all have to admit we have. No one likes making bad decisions, but they’re a fact of life.  Maybe you hired the wrong person, chose the wrong vendor, or launched a new program that no one seems to want.

Your value as a manager is not measured only by the quality of your decisions.  You will also be judged by how you handle bad decisions when you make them.  So, what do you do when you realize you made a mistake?

Here are 4 actions to take when you realize you made a bad decision.

  1. Act quickly. Don’t fall prey to the sunk cost fallacy.  I know it’s hard to end something into which you’ve put time, money and effort.  But It’s far better to accept the loss now, rather than dragging it out and wasting even more resources.
  1. Identify the Remedy. A bad decision isn’t necessarily a fatal one. You may have hired the wrong person for the job, but if he has the right attitude, he may be open to training to get his skills up to speed. You may have approved implementing a new software program that’s failing, but maybe you can temporarily scale back to a smaller pilot program to learn more about the new system.  On the other hand, some problems require drastic and decisive action. It’s essential to take a clear view of how to remedy the bad decision.
  1. Learn from it. Once you’ve taken action, reflect on what happened. Could the problem realistically have been avoided? Sometimes the answer is no, but other times, if you’re honest with yourself, you could have prevented the situation. Take the time to understand where you went wrong so you don’t make the same mistake twice.
  1. Share what you learn.  While it may seem easier to sweep bad decisions under the rug and pretend they never happened, there’s power in taking responsibility.  Making bad decisions is a part of life: no one has a 100% success rate.  Even so, it’s hard to admit our mistakes. But when you do, and you remedy them quickly and honestly, you can mitigate the initial problem and earn the lasting respect of your team.