Nobody I know, well nobody who has got a life, wants to spend any more time than is absolutely necessary in meetings. I confess I have sat thinking about how much real work I could be doing if I didn’t have to waste time sitting here in this boring meeting.
Meetings can be great time wasters in any business because they tie up the time of all the participants. In community organisations boring meetings are a great way to frustrate the volunteer spirit
9 Essentials for running an effective decision-making meeting:
Before the meeting –
- Make sure the people who are part of decision making group understand what is their role. Remind them regularly of the overall vision of the organisation and always show how new proposals will assist the organisation to move towards their vision and complete their mission.
- Give participants the respect they deserve and usually they will rise to give good and helpful advice that will greatly benefit the organisation. Disrespect them, try to make them a rubber stamp, and you may get your decision through but will lose respect and trust (ie relationship) as you do it.
- Be prepared well in advance especially for major decisions. Send out agenda items with some clear information to assist people to understand issues and formulate advice.
- Ideally discuss difficult matters personally with key participants before the meeting to gauge their views and to help them understand the issues. That will make any group discussion more fruitful.
- Keep small decisions out of group decision making bodies. Far better to empower leaders and executives to do the day to day decisions within clear parameters.
In the meeting –
- First deal with matters where you know there is broad agreement. Helps gets momentum going.
- Never make a decision on an agenda item at the same meeting at which it is raised unless there is broad agreement. Discussing an issue without the pressure of having to decide now enables a free exchange of views.
- Unless a decision has a time frame don’t crunch a vote when you can see that the meeting is evenly divided. Forcing a vote does not usually lead to good decision making. It gives us cynical people who wonder why they bother to think and have convictions. Obviously though you can’t always wait for the holdouts.
- Don’t put too many items on an agenda. Make it do-able in a realistic time frame (No more than 90 minutes even in an important business meeting.)
Usually the purpose of decision-making meetings is to ensure collective wisdom is available to a leader. It is not intended to be a permission giving group that is there to make it hard for the leader.
A wise leader works with the unique personalities on their team and learns even from the more difficult ones how they can better lead. After all the leader who looks around and finds that noone is following is not leading anyone anywhere, but simply out for a stroll!