Skills 360 – Leading Group Decision-Making Meetings (2)

Skills 360 Lesson - Facilitating a Meeting to Make a Decision 2

Welcome back to Business English Skills 360 for today’s lesson on how to lead a group meeting to make a decision.

If you’re leading a group meeting to make a decision, you should expect a few obstacles along the way.

For one, people can get a bit personal and attack the person, as opposed to the idea. Call people out for personal attacks, and keep the discussion focused on ideas, not personality conflict. This is part of your role as the meeting facilitator. You’re supposed to encourage people to listen, prevent interruption, and generally make sure people feel respected and heard. As soon as people feel attacked personally, they’ll shut up.

Another thing you need to shut down is any off topic conversation. People do this without even realizing it. They hear something, it reminds them of something else, they start talking about it and soon enough the conversation has gone way off topic. Your job is to steer the conversation back. For people who love to hear themselves talk and go on and on, find an appropriate moment to jump in and provide a summary of their idea.

Another obstacle in a decision-making meeting is what we call “groupthink.” Groupthink is when people just follow along with the ideas being discussed, without thinking for themselves. To deal with groupthink, encourage creative thinking from the get-go. One thing you might try is having people write down their ideas individually before sharing them with the group. After having people write down their own ideas, go around the table and give each person a chance to speak. The more you leave it to the really vocal people, the more susceptible the meeting will be to groupthink.

Besides groupthink, another obstacle you may face is time. So watch the time carefully. And when you’re down to 25%, remind people. Don’t be afraid to push them a bit. In most cases, people are more willing to compromise than to drag an issue out longer than necessary. But if the group really can’t come to a good decision, or if people really can’t agree, or if there’s just more information needed, then consider other options. For one, you might table the decision. A delayed decision is often better than a bad decision. Or, you might assign a smaller group to make the decision.

Regardless, what you’re shooting for is the best possible decision. And as we’ve discussed, there are many possible obstacles to making a good decision within the time you’ve got. But if you play it right, if you manage the people well, and if you encourage good ideas, and new ideas, you should be able to come to a good group decision.

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