They say to show up early, stay late, don’t gossip, dress well, and walk around the office fast so you look busy. Really? By now, these tips on how to impress your boss are known by all bosses everywhere. Instead of playing a role, start to shine by using a concrete new approach.
Once you reach your early 20s, a pattern emerges in how you make decisions and take action. How do you progress from preliminary consideration to deliberation to execution? These patterns remain stable throughout your adult life, which makes how you approach your work predictable, what you are more likely to succeed at predictable, and what you may fail at predictable.
Is your pattern to always be well prepared before taking action? Are you accustomed to jumping into action and figuring out how to do it later? Do you have a difficult time prioritizing? Or do you spend a lot of time deliberating on whether something is worth your effort, with little progression to completing the initiative?
There are six cognitive processes involved in how we make decisions and take action. How much time you spend in each of these will relate to your strengths and successes in your chosen field. In contrast, where you do not spend a lot of time may be a blind spot when that process could have been helpful. Let’s investigate the six processes to find out where you fall.
The Six Cognitive Processes of Decision-MakingExploring is a way to gather information with a broad scope—looking for alternatives or brainstorming. Spending a lot of time in this process will lend to creative solutions, yet may also make you appear distracted and not focused.
Investigating is the process of gathering in-depth information on a narrower scope—gathering and analyzing detailed information for an initiative to be well informed. People who spend a lot of time in this process will be well prepared and analytical, and will take fewer risks when proceeding to action.
Evaluating is the process of weighing pros and cons—prioritizing initiatives, information, or actions. This is a deliberative process of creating clarity. People who spend a lot of time here may be able to create clarity for themselves and others, yet see things as black and white, and potentially be viewed as judgmental.
Determining is the process of deciding how firmly you will stick to an initiative when faced with obstacles. Will you stand firm or push back if others apply pressure to you? Or will you cave? People who spend a lot of time here are known to have grit, yet others may view them as stubborn.
Anticipating is the process of generating vision, forecasting consequences of actions down the road, and staging activities to reach an end goal. People who spend a lot of time here are great in forward planning and spotting trends, yet may be anxious, always living in the future and not in the present.
Timing is the process of being able to accelerate or decelerate actions based on the needs of an initiative. People who spend a lot of time here are known to seize opportunities, yet may expect others to match their adjustment in pace and become impatient those who cannot do so.
Spending a lot of time in any process (greater than 20 percent of your time) means it will become known as your specialty. Are you known for your research, new ideas, process, determination, forward planning, or ability to seize opportunities?
How can you use this information? Here are some suggestions for you to take your work to the next level.
- Lead meetings to ensure an equal amount of time in each of the six cognitive processes. How many of us complain about too many meetings that go nowhere? If you ensure that each process is utilized, you are more than likely to complete a thorough decision-making process and be able to progress from preliminary consideration to execution.
- Construct your teams to have individuals who have strength in each of the six areas. People who think differently tend to have more conflicts. However, if you can get to a point of recognizing the strengths of varying patterns, you will have a thriving team that does not drop the ball on any cognitive process and will make well-balanced decisions. Many teams are skewed toward individuals of similar strengths, in which case consultants can balance out the decision-making process.
- Assess project needs and compare these needs to your cognitive strengths and the strengths of the team. At the outset of a project, you can accurately assess your likelihood to flourish or be challenged to complete it. You can either accept or decline the project, anticipate additional resources to supplement your team’s effectiveness with consultants, or add to your team the assets you require to succeed. Your managers will be impressed by your awareness and honesty regarding what you need to fulfill the assignment.
- Reassign responsibilities within your team based on cognitive strengths of the individuals. Structure your team to pass off parts of a project to each other based on their cognitive strengths. When you provide responsibilities to utilize an employee’s cognitive strengths, you will reduce the stress they experience, enhance their quality of work, and reduce turnover.
Incorporating even one of the above suggestions will impress your managers, and you will start to shine even brighter over time.