An Engineer’s Guide on How to Make Difficult Decisions

Engineers make difficult decisions everyday. Here's how to handle that.


There will come a time in an engineer’s career that he or she will be bombarded by challenges that require difficult decisions. It could be matters on management or application of engineering principles that will make the engineer think twice about which path to take.

You are bound to reach that stage whether you like or not, especially when you are holding a management position. And for you to prepare yourself for that, you have to be reminded that your decision should dwell upon the idea that you have to make things better than when you have found them.

It’s also worth noting that your task is to conquer that challenge by at least deciding – having no decision at all is a lot more risky than letting the problem solve itself.

Conventional knowledge tells us that if one is a leader, he or she must be responsible for all the decisions that he or she makes. This is how engineers should think.

Taking responsibility for decisions – no matter how difficult they are – is first step for engineers in making difficult decisions, especially that the work involves a lot of risks in many aspects. If you are not willing to accept the feedback, results, or consequences of that decision, you will have a hard time confronting other challenges to come.


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But how should engineers really make difficult decisions? What principles should you follow? Listed below are four which are anchored in leadership:

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Create a stable and safe environment

Before the difficult decision is made, you have to make sure that everyone who will be affected by that decision has an assurance that they will not be accountable of the outcome. And that you are the person in front to take care of how the decision ends.

People always come first

When you embrace a people-first culture in your decision, moreover in your company if you are an engineering manager, such will yield better results than prioritizing something else.

Stay grounded

Do not let ego get in the way. If somebody suggests something that might help the situation more than you can, accept it and take responsibility for it. Making a difficult decision is already a task in itself; doing it with arrogance doesn’t help.

Be transparent and honest

It has to be made. You should tell the truth even when it’s not convenient, because the lies will never make the process of deciding easier – maybe it will but only for a short time and could have huge costs.

Source: Success

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An Engineer’s Guide on How to Make Difficult Decisions

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