You’ve seen it happen before. A group of people convene to have a meeting with the goal of coming to a decision on an important matter. Each person in the group voices their opinion and presents research and recommendations that support their perspective. By the end of the meeting, everyone has heard everyone else out, yet the group still can’t seem to reach a decision.
What should a team do when they have dissected an issue yet still can’t seem to agree on a decision together? Oftentimes, people will just agree to disagree and say, “Let’s just see how it goes,” or conclude that they can come back to the topic at a later time. But this isn’t the right approach. It’s best if everyone that’s a part of the decision-making process understands what is going to happen if they don’t reach an agreement before the meeting even begins.
The vast majority of business decisions are made in meetings. When you come to decisions as a group, you can tap into everyone’s collective knowledge, which is far richer than that of each individual. Combining the unique perspectives and information of multiple people allows your team to make more informed decisions. What’s more, when people feel like they have been a part of the decision-making process, they are more likely to embrace the decision that the group came to and do the work needed to carry out the goals. This is because they feel more ownership of the decision, even if it didn’t go exactly as they hoped.
If you’re tasked with making a decision as a group, it’s important to go into the meeting knowing not what decision will be made but what steps you’ll take if the group is unable to come to a consensus. In a team meeting where the manager is present and the team is unable to come to a decision, the manager will usually make the decision on the team’s behalf. But in today’s organizations, which are often matrixed in nature, it’s harder to find a tie-breaker due to employees having multiple reporting lines.
Outline a plan for how the decision-making process will work in a meeting and then share it with key stakeholders to get their feedback. Make sure everyone participating in the decision-making meeting understands exactly what will happen if a decision isn’t reached. The process should be simple enough so that everyone participating can easily understand it.
For example, you might decide to have a one-hour discussion in which everyone presents their point of view and if a decision isn’t reached by the end of that meeting, the group will have to cast a vote. In some organizations, this might mean that the results of the vote will be used to inform the executive who is responsible for making the final decision. In other scenarios, the group vote could determine the final decision.
If a final decision cannot be made at the meeting for whatever reason, then you could also allow the team to defer the decision to a later date. If you choose to go that route, be sure to specify exactly when you will be making the deferred decision.
Collaborative technologies like the Resource Central meeting room booking system and Digital Sign Service make it easier to schedule and manage meeting rooms, helping to improve the overall decision-making process. For more information about our meeting room and resource booking technologies for Microsoft Outlook®, Exchange, and Office 365, contact us today to schedule a free trial or free online demo.