Do you get frustrated by the speed of decision making in meetings?

Do you find yourself wishing that there were lesser people involved in the decision-making process, and that it was much more efficient?

Do you often rue that the person with the loudest voice in the room or the maximum clout ends up having their way regardless of whether or not it is best for the organization?

It does not have to be this way. Here are some tips to make the decision-making process more efficient and inclusive –

  • Establish clarity – Establish clarity about what needs to be solved? Why is it important to solve? What does success look like? How will you know that it is solved? Socialize this clarity with the group that will put their heads together to solve the problem. You may even want to co-develop this clarity with the group.
  • Choose team – Having established clarity about what needs to be solved, consider who are the best people in your organization to solve it. Who has the depth and the breadth of knowledge to address the problem? Who gets affected by the decision and therefore merit their views being considered? Ensure that the group is diverse to bring different perspectives to the table and avoids bias. It also helps to keep the group reasonably small. Research shows that groups with seven plus members tend to be susceptible to confirmation bias.  
  • Avoid groupthink – Hierarchy, desire to prevent dissent or preserve harmony can make the group prone to groupthink. This can kill innovative ideas. To avoid this, appoint a moderator to invite ideas from everyone and challenge the status quo. You may even gather ideas independently before the meeting and have the team evaluate all of them. This is also a good way to avoid confirmation bias.
  • Provide a safe space – To have every one share their points of view and engage in constructive dissent, create a safe space for people to speak up without any fear of retribution or ridicule. Make sure the focus is on the idea presented rather than the individual and the group empathizes and respects the individuals working towards the common goal.
  • Work through dissent – If the group cannot agree on a decision, recognize that it is a difficult conversation and it is important to stay with it. Remember that life goes on after the meeting and people would still be colleagues after the event, and relationships need to be preserved despite tough dialogue and calls. Encourage the group to assume positive intent about each other. Outline a way to resolve the impasse and thoughtfully work through the issues – may be lay out the concerns and divergent opinions and discuss them respectfully. Celebrate progress, even if it is as small as agreeing on why the group cannot reach a consensus.

To conclude, the frustrations often experienced in decision-making meetings can be addressed by implementing a set of efficient and inclusive practices, e.g., establishing clarity about the problem at hand, involving the right people with diverse perspectives, appointing a moderator, creating a safe space for constructive dissent and exploration of different ideas, focusing on the ideas presented rather than individuals, maintaining respect and empathy within the group, and assuming positive intent from each other. Staying committed to resolve the challenge and working through it thoughtfully and staying respectful to each other can make the decision-making process more efficient and inclusive within the organizations.

PS – Facilitating efficient meetings is a vital leadership skill. Want to get better at it? Book a free exploratory consult with me.