What are some common obstacles to effective decision making on the part of managers?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Sometimes managers operate with a confirmation bias. This means that when problems or questions arise, they seek out information that aligns with the viewpoint they already hold and ignore data that supports other or differing claims. This could hinder progress as the conclusions managers reach may not be in the best interests of their company or employees. Managers need to therefore always consider how their own biases may be impacting the ways they collect and analyze data and seek out others with varying points of view to help aid in gathering data for decision making.

The halo effect can also affect managers in their decisions. In this case, managers transfer their favorable impressions of one idea, product, or person to all other related tasks or activities. This could mean that an employee who takes on new tasks with consistent enthusiasm and energy is seen without question as a faithful worker; however, this same employee could be completing the work halfheartedly or could be taking on more work than she can feasibly handle if left unchecked. A common example of the halo effect is that attractive employees are often considered more competent workers than unattractive employees.

Managers can also be the victims of overconfidence. In this case, they believe themselves overly capable of handling all decisions, which can lead to detrimental managerial decisions. Whether managers believe themselves a better manager than they actually are, more intelligent than they actually are, possessing more control than they actually do, or able to organize a project quicker than is actually possible, overconfidence leaves lots of room for error. It thus helps if managers temper their own expectations with a worst-case scenario in order to better manage workers and projects.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

There are many obstacles to making effective decisions.  Let us look at a few of the more common psychological or mental obstacles that managers can encounter.  These are obstacles that prevent managers from thinking clearly about the issues that they face.

One major obstacle is overconfidence.  Studies have shown that we tend to greatly overestimate our abilities.  This is particularly true in areas that are our strengths.  In other words, we can know we are strong in a given area, but we overestimate how strong we are.  This can lead us to make bad decisions because we overestimate our ability to make good decisions and therefore we do not listen to any negative opinions.

Another major obstacle that goes along with this is confirmation bias.  This occurs when we only really pay attention to evidence or opinions that support ours.  We then make bad decisions because we did not take into account facts that might have suggested that we should take a different course of action.

A final obstacle is anchoring bias.  This is a bias in which we give too much weight to the first piece of information or the first idea that we hear.  We then let that information “anchor” our thinking in place and we have a hard time changing our opinions when new information comes in.

These are some obstacles that make it harder for us to think clearly and make good decisions as managers.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
Soaring plane image

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial