Emotions interfere when making business decisions

Someone recently voiced concerns to Laddie about an employee who was not doing a good job and, in his opinion, was holding back other parts of the business. The employee was unwilling to implement new systems and his inability to do his own job correctly created more work for other employees, who were justifiably frustrated by the situation. And since he had received annual pay increases with everyone else, the man was overpaid for the work he did.

The obvious question was why our friend had chosen to keep this person on staff all this time. His answer was that he knew the employee needed the job and, on a personal level, really liked him. He had allowed his emotions to interfere with making a sound business decision.

All of us have probably been guilty of this at some time. We’ve seen this happen with clients in many different situations involving employees, partners, vendors, customers and other important business decisions. And we’ve done it ourselves.

Sometimes our emotions are tied to compassion, as in this story, which is an admirable trait. But whether you’re feeling compassion over someone’s difficult situation or having to make another tough decision, there comes a time when you have to put emotion aside. You have to consider what’s best for the company and everyone who works there.

When you’re faced with a difficult decision, here are some things to think about.

First, if someone came to you, asked for your honest opinion, and presented you with the same scenario you’re dealing with now, what advice would you give? Granted, it’s much easier to look at a situation objectively when it doesn’t impact your life and your money.

But if you can try to step back and look at your dilemma from a strictly non-emotional point of view, the answer could be clear. You might still find that a compassionate stance needs to guide your decision but you might also see that finding other alternatives would be better for everyone involved.

Second, if you could find an alternative solution to your dilemma, would you do things differently than you’re doing now? In other words, not all solutions are just A or B. If you search, solutions are often C or D.

Let’s say you have to decide about whether or not to fire a customer. You know they no longer fit your company but don’t want to say goodbye. Instead of keeping the customer, a good alternative solution might be to explain that you feel your company isn’t a good fit for their needs, but leave on good terms by suggesting other products or service providers they might use instead.

The third consideration is whether your frustration level would decline if the situation were different. Decisions that eliminate chronic sources of irritation are usually best for the business overall. For example, we once had an employee who was terrific at his job, but managed to upset and frustrate everyone in the company on a regular basis.

This man constantly complained and managed to create annoyances that distracted others from their jobs — what we like to call a “PITA” (pain in the backside). We eventually realized Mr. PITA’s work quality wasn’t worth the risk of losing other valuable employees, so we let him go. The frustration level among the company’s employees immediately went down and it was clear we should have done it sooner.

Finally, consider taking your issue to an impartial party. We should all have advisors who help us make sound decisions, and we should use them whenever we think our emotions may be driving an important one. A quick phone call or two are often all it takes to find out if others think you are letting emotions get in the way or are using good judgment.

When faced with a difficult dilemma, try to look at your situation as objectively as possible. If it’s apparent that keeping the status quo is probably not best for your business but you don’t want to change the circumstances, you’re letting emotions control your decision-making.

Sometimes making the right decision is hard or even painful, but that’s what you signed up for when you wanted to be a business owner. You’re ultimately responsible for the wellbeing of everyone who works in your company — including your own. You must think with your head and not allow your emotions to rule.

Laddie and Judy Blaskowski are partners in several businesses, including BusinessTruths Consulting. They are authors of The Step Dynamic: A Powerful Strategy for Successfully Growing Your Business. Judy@BusinessTruths.com. Connect with them on LinkedIn.