Empowerment In Decision-Making

Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you were conflicted between two choices; you had to choose one option over another and were torn between the two?

One often-cited activity to help clarify which might be right is to make a list of the pros and the cons of each choice (rational). Yet, sometimes even after having done this, a person can still feel confused as to which choice they will ultimately make (emotional).

Yesterday I had a two-hour meeting with a person in this situation. This person has recently started a job but unfortunately the job hasn’t come as originally advertised. There is more to the job then they’d been led to believe. Of their first seven days on the job, the person providing the training and support was only there for the first two and then went on vacation for the next five, leaving a new employee to do the best they can until her return.

Now on the one hand, that sounds like a poorly run outfit. After all, why not just wait 7 more business days and have the new employee start then with a much better training program in place? If we assume the company was in a pinch, they may have figured the new employee with two days training could at least survive the next five days; kind of being thrown into the job and you sink or swim. Being positive, they may have felt the person they chose has the skills to just get by until the trainer returns.

However, what they didn’t take into consideration is that this has had an adverse impact on the new employee to the extent where being at the job is highly stressful and the person is considering quitting and looking for work elsewhere. Not everyone reacts the same to similar situations. So where one person might see such a situation as a challenge and an opportunity, another might become distraught and unable to perform at their best feeling lost and confused in the process.

And so it was that yesterday I sat down with the person and together we were talking out whether to stay on the job or quit. Quitting the job would be somewhat the easier decision of the two. Tell the employer of the decision to quit, pick up the Record of Employment when the employer has it prepared in a week and look for another job. In looking for the next job, take from this the lesson of doing complete research before accepting a job, and find a job directly in their field, not one close to it to ensure a good fit.

The more difficult option is to get through today; today being Friday. Survive the day, recharge over the weekend, and then with the trainer back on Monday, see if proper training and support come with the start of the new week. In other words, give the employer a chance to properly do an orientation and see if that makes a difference in a decision to stay or go. If there isn’t support forthcoming, walk away at the end of next week after having given them a chance to address shared concerns.

Now to you and me, it might seem like a no-brainer; it’s only a day after all, so don’t quit. However, you and I might be looking at this rationally whereas they are in the job, experiencing the turmoil of the situation they find themselves in, and we can’t fully comprehend the emotional rollercoaster that they are feeling. I was told by this person that they have headaches, feel like crying and can barely hold it together, can’t eat and feel entirely incompetent.

I didn’t make their decision for them. Oh eventually I did say what I’d do in that same situation, but I made it clear that the choice I’d make would be the right one for me only, not necessarily the one they might or should make to be right for them. I also said that regardless of the choice they made, I’d still be in their corner, still respect them either way, and think no less of them should they quit. I even went so far as to ask them if they’d quit if I told them to, and the reply was, “I don’t think I’d do that just because you told me to.” Between you and me, that’s a wonderful sign that she’s still thinking for herself.

In the end, no decision was made. Today however, a decision must be made to quit or go in and survive the day, get past the weekend, and see what next week brings. The one thing I did contract with them was to let me know either way today what they decided to do. I have my guess as to what they’ll decide and we shall see.

To really empower someone, you have to let them make their own decision. This isn’t a child who we as a parent would make decisions for and protect. This is an adult who in struggling to make an important decision, will grow from the experience if left to make the hard choice themselves. My part in this has only to be a sounding board, a voice of objectivity so they make a rational rather than emotional decision.

Making tough decisions for ourselves make us stronger and wiser.






2 thoughts on “Empowerment In Decision-Making

  1. Reblogged this on NorthernMSW: Advocacy, Aging, Book Reviews, Healthcare & Helping Profession Information….. and commented:
    Well written Kelly and I agree that tough decisions do make us wiser!
    I do not think anyone can say that they have not been in a situation where they had to make a decision between 2 or more choices.
    A pro and con list is a great way to start followed by a discussion with a person who is trustworthy and gives good advice.
    Sometimes it is better to ‘sit on it’ over the weekend and see if you feel better on Monday morning before making a final decision.


    1. spoken like true social services and social work professionals! Often in this day and age of smaller families, less ‘real’ friends (not the FB type), and a frenetic pace of life, all one needs is a space to reflect and have someone to help them navigate the things to consider in making any decision – be it a job choice, leaving a marriage, or whether or not to ‘put mom in a home’. Life is dynamic and developing coping skills to help navigate this fact, is an essential life skill that is not taught very well except by this thing called ‘life experience’! (or a little help from others-and not necessarily just a ‘counsellor’)

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s