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How to avoid ‘the escalation trap’

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in Centerpiece,Leaders & Managers,Leadership Skills

bar graph and holeMaking a bad decision is bad enough. Just don’t dig yourself into a deeper hole.

After we make poor judgments, we tend to invest time and energy trying to justify our decision. This compounds the initial error and diverts focus from what really counts.

Say you hire an employee who proves ineffectual. After a few months, you realize your mistake. But you keep trying to coach the individual (to no avail) and reconfigure the job. A year or two later, you’re reluctant to terminate the still-underperforming employee because you’ve spent so many hours attempting to train the person and find a better fit within your organization.

You’ll save time and headaches by avoiding what experts call “the escalation trap”—escalating your level of commitment to a lost cause. Don’t be swayed by the time you’ve already spent addressing a botched decision. It should not enter into the equation.

Similarly, don’t let your ego interfere with your better judgment. Cut your losses.

If you’re struggling to come to terms with a poor decision, step outside your perspective and consider others’ views. If you terminate a poor performer, think of the boost in morale that will result when the rest of the team breathes a sigh of relief.

Finally, set parameters to evaluate decisions before you make them. When hiring an employee, for example, determine in advance the number of hours you’ll devote to training and your performance expectations.

— Adapted from “How to escape from bad decisions,” Adam Grant, www.huffingtonpost.com.

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