Making smart, informed decisions is one of the main goals of holding business meetings. Ideally, every meeting of this nature would wrap up with clear decisions and a list of action items to ensure the goals of the meeting move forward.  Unfortunately, this outcome is often a struggle to achieve in the real world.

74% of those in management positions consider meetings essential for long term organizational success, but 39% of employees say they nod off in meetings.1  These two numbers demonstrate a striking difference in the way leadership and employees view any type of meeting.

Compounding matters, the stakes can be high in decision-making meetings. Human nature often takes over, causing the discourse to devolve into a flurry of disagreements among attendees that dominate the remainder of the meeting. Team members can easily become locked into their own opinions and closed off from receiving perspectives that differ from theirs.

As a result, one or two attendees may drive the decision-making process or, in the worst-case scenario, the group may fail to reach any kind of decision – rendering the meeting a waste of valuable company time.

Fortunately, incorporating structure into the planning process and management of meetings can make significant improvements in the outcome and facilitate wise decision making.

Set Standards in Advance of the Meeting

Order is the best defense against chaos. To that end, setting objective standards by which to measure participant input will help fend off behavior, attitudes and thoughts that have a negative impact on the meeting. Standards also steer the discussion toward the thoughtful consideration of available options.

Having options is important because you can use the standards to weigh them against each other and come up with the best possible decision that takes all important factors into account.

Comparing attendee input against the standards is a fair way to determine what does, and what does not, meet them. Weeding out suggestions in this way helps avoid the controversy that can accompany feedback that is perceived as biased in some way.

For example:  When seeking a solution to a problem, and inviting input by meeting participants, establish standards that consider how solutions may impact other departments such as requiring more manpower, increasing budgets, decreasing productivity, etc.

Follow these Tips for Establishing Standards

 You may not need to set standards for every single meeting. Your organization may provide previously established standards for certain situations. However, in the event your leadership team must act as the creators, there are several protocols you can follow to ensure they are solid and will fulfill their desired purpose.

While it may sound counter-intuitive, when it comes to decisions that can make a major impact on your organization, holding a meeting dedicated to establishing standards is critical. Executing it via email is not enough in this case.

Why is this? Leadership should be aligned in what it wants to see the meeting accomplish and what it considers top priorities. If leadership is not aligned and does not present a united front for the good of the company, you cannot expect your teams to be aligned. Leadership sets the tone.

Make sure you listen carefully to one another’s ideas and carefully weigh different preferences and priorities. You should walk away with a firm grasp of what coming up with high-quality options will entail. Doing so will aptly prepare you to face your team in the decision-making meeting.

Thorough preparation for meetings that are held to make decisions may take a bit of extra investment on the part of leadership, but the time and effort will be worth it when they result in wise decisions that propel your organization forward and set it up for success.

For more information about how Gavel International can help your organization through outsourced meeting planning, contact us. 



Eloisa Mendez