5 Steps to Overcome the Fear of the Unknown

  • Howie Fenton
  • |
  • March 07, 2023

Have you heard of “decision making hesitation”? It refers to the tendency to delay or avoid making a decision, even when all necessary information is known. This can be caused by a variety of factors, such as fear of making the wrong decision, lack of confidence in one's abilities, uncertainty about the outcome of different choices, or the desire to gather more information before committing to a course of action. This was widespread during the pandemic, but recent articles report that this still impacts management and staff, resulting in poor or delayed decisions. With the faster pace of change, no one can afford to make poor or delayed decisions. In this blog, we describe the signs of decision hesitation and the 5 steps to overcome the fear of the unknown.

Signs of Decision-Making Hesitation and the Impact  

Decision-making hesitation can impact four key areas: decision-making, strategic planning, risk-taking, and employee morale. Fear of the unknown makes it challenging to make decisions, particularly in uncertain or rapidly changing environments. This fear can lead to indecision or hesitation, which can have negative impacts on your ability to respond to new challenges, such as customers demanding faster turnaround or less expensive products. It can also slow the growth of new products or services such as promotional products, insourcing, and large format printing. 

This hesitation impacts strategic planning. Managers may be hesitant to plan for the future or set long-term goals if they are uncertain about how the business environment will change. This can make it challenging for companies to remain price competitive and adapt to changing customer demands such as selling new services via promotional videos. 

Fear of the unknown can make managers less likely to take risks, even if those risks could potentially lead to significant rewards, like investing in new technology such as inkjet printing or workflow automation (Web to Print, Print MIS, Prepress) to reduce turnaround time and free up staff. This hesitation can limit the company's ability to reduce manufacturing costs, introduce new products/services, speed up turnaround times, and improve customer satisfaction. Last but not least, this hesitation can also impact employee morale and can lead to anxiety and uncertainty among the workforce. This can impact productivity and engagement. 

5 Steps to Overcome Fear of the Unknown

Few managers are immune to the fear of the unknown. One strategy to overcome this fear is to take action, and the best action is to start researching and planning your next step. Here are five steps that can help you overcome this hesitation:

  1. Conduct a Needs Assessment: The first step in this process is to assess the in-plants needs. This involves identifying the business objectives and the cost-benefit analysis. As we discussed in our last blog, this includes the 4 STEPs (staffing, training, equipment, procedures) required to achieve those objectives.

  2. Develop a Business Case: After the needs assessment is complete, you should develop a business case for the investment. This should include an analysis of the expected costs and benefits of the investment. Typically, the benefits are expressed as reduced turnaround time/improved customer satisfaction, money savings, or additional revenue. To be thorough you should also discuss a risk analysis.

  3. Develop an Implementation Plan: You should develop a detailed implementation plan that outlines the steps necessary to complete the implementation process. This plan should include a timeline, a budget, and a list of key stakeholders and their roles and responsibilities.

  4. Evaluate Suppliers: You should evaluate potential suppliers of the equipment or technology to be purchased, looking at factors such as price, benefits, quality, and reliability. Consider creating a request for proposal (RFP). Or, if you know exactly what you want, a request for quote (RFQ). This process can streamline the selection process, increase competition and drive down costs, and ensure that all the venders speak the same language. An RFP/RFQ can help ensure you select a supplier that is able to provide the best value for the investment.

  5. Monitor and Evaluate the Investment: Once the implementation is complete, you should monitor and evaluate its performance to ensure that it is achieving the expected benefits. This may involve tracking key performance indicators, such as production output, efficiency, or cost savings, and making adjustments as necessary. 

Stop Treading Water- Get Help If Needed 

The pandemic has taken a toll on many people's mental health, with increased rates of anxiety, depression, and stress. For some but not all people, the impact is over. However, if you see others struggling you might want to talk to them or even recommend resources such as the CDC, Mayo Clinic, APA, and local sources. 

As we have discussed in recent blogs, the pace of change has accelerated recently. This increased pace of change is increasing the importance of smart and timely decision making. In this blog we outlined the signs of decision-making hesitation, the impact of slow or poor decisions, and suggest five steps to overcome this hesitation. Other recommendations include focusing on what you can control, taking small steps, practicing mindfulness, writing down the pros and cons of a decision, practicing visualization, and talking to others. It matters less exactly what you do as long as you do something.  

Take the First Step to Overcome Decision Hesitation

Take the first step to overcome decision hesitation. Talk with Howie Fenton or RSA to discuss the steps you can take to make the unknown less uncertain.

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About the Author

Howie Fenton

Howie Fenton is an independent consultant and trusted advisor to in-plant printers. He recommends equipment, best practices and workflow automation tools to streamline operations. To learn more about measuring performance, benchmarking to leaders, and improving your value e-mail Howie@howiefentonconsulting.com

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