From Discussion to Decision

Have you ever been a part of meeting where there was a lot of discussion but no decision? You came together, you talked through options, and it feels like a decision was made but…you’re still not sure what the course of action is. 

People Want to Be Heard

Waiting for everyone on a team to agree on a decision is a good recipe for mediocrity, delay, and frustration. Ironically, commitment is something of the opposite. It’s about a group of intelligent individuals buying in to a decision precisely when they don’t naturally agree. In other words, it’s the ability to defy a lack of consensus. And that’s directly related to the group’s ability to engage in conflict.

When a group of people know that their colleagues have no reservations about disagreeing with one another and that every available opinion and perspective has been unapologetically aired, they will have the confidence to embrace a decision and abandon whatever their initial opinions might have been. Most of us don’t really need to have our ideas adopted-to get our way-in order to buy in to a decision. We just want to have our ideas heard, understood, considered, and explained within the context of the ultimate decision.

In this environment your job is to make sure everyone is heard, that opinions are respectfully considered, and then to push the team for closure. Don’t let a fear of failure stop the group from making a decision. Hearing everyone, considering the facts, and then making a decision helps create buy-in.

So What Did We Decide Today?

Of course buy-in doesn’t help if people aren’t clear on what they’ve bought into.  So when it seems like a path has been set, a good leader asks “so what did we decide?”  Once that question is posed, someone needs to write the decision down, and confirm everyone is on the same page. If the decision results in some form of action, then record who is responsible for what and by when. If the decision needs to be communicated out beyond your team then make sure a plan exists for communicating it to other stakeholders. 

It may feel a little unnatural but repeating the decision aloud ensures that everyone is on the same page. You may be surprised how often someone speaks up because what you thought they said, isn’t what they meant. 

For example, a recap from a neighborhood association meeting may sound like this:

“Great, so it looks like we are all meeting at 9:00 a.m. on Saturday for the neighborhood cleanup. Chris is bringing the rakes, Sally is coordinating with Muncie Sanitary, Ira is getting the trash bags, and Samantha is working with the Ball State volunteers. Derick will make sure this is sent out in a community wide email. OK, next on the agenda…”

There’s No Accountability Without Clarity

Committing to clear decisions are vital to accountability. Without a clear path forward, people are confused about expectations and teams struggle to hold each other accountable. Many leaders have experienced great frustration, and surprise, when they learn the goal they were holding their team accountable for, is not the goal the team was pursing. 

One Day Investing in You

Fortunately, we’re here to help. At Shafer Leadership Academy we Create Great Local Leaders.  Achieving Commitment is the third step in creating an cohesive team, and one of the topics in our Five Behaviors of a Cohesive Team program. The Five Behaviors of a Cohesive Team is a one day workshop where you learn how teams: Trust, Confront, Decide, Account, and Achieve.

Click here to learn how you can attend The Five Behaviors of a Cohesive Team on April 26th at the Innovation Connector. Scholarships are available!


About the author:

Mitch Isaacs was named Shafer Leadership Academy’s Executive Director in May 2015. In this role, he works closely with the organization’s board of directors to fulfill the mission of the organization. He is responsible for creating vision, connecting with stakeholders, administering program offerings and leading the organization in meaningful ways.  Learn more about Mitch »