Done right, decision-making by consensus can help build an efficient team and also improve the quality of decisions. Bob Urichuck shares how
Who doesn’t want a high performing, loyal and results-oriented team? Can you see yourself as their leader?
While some are getting the cheers and congratulations, it’s a fast-changing world where commitment can be hard to come by. To foster that you need to engage and empower team members. It is through their answers—answers they own—that you get commitment. Commitment leads to carrying through—by others—as you are just the leader, not the doer. It is not about you, but all about the team members.
As a leader you need to find alignment between your team members’ goals and aspirations and the performance and results you count on them contributing. The following points will help you ‘work on the process’ so you can ‘enjoy the result.’
Preparing to lead a team effectiveness meeting
A full-day team effectiveness meeting is a must. But what does it include? How do you prepare?
As a leader, first to yourself and then to others, you should have the desire to make things easy for everyone. One of the key characteristics of successful leaders is their ability to facilitate. Facilitation is any activity that makes tasks easier for others. Facilitation is used in business and organisational settings, and in consensus decision making, to ensure the designing and running of successful meetings and workshops.
Facilitation serves the needs of any group who are meeting with a common purpose, whether it be making a decision, solving a problem, or simply exchanging ideas and information. It does not seek to lead the group, nor does it try to distract or to entertain.
A slightly different interpretation focuses more specifically on a group that is engaged in experiential learning – learning from the experience. We will be making use of both, as we want to make it easy for you and your team members to develop an owner’s mentality, become more self-motivated and to create the ideal work environment.
First up is learning how to become an effective facilitator and to become skilled at conducting a compelling meeting. Let’s break it down starting with how you and your team will approach decision making.
How do you approach decision making?
While working in the corporate world I realised how quickly I became demotivated when I was told what to do. It was as if I did not know my job, was not trusted, engaged,or empowered, which are all necessary elements to create a high performing team.
Think about yourself for a moment:
- How do you like to be managed?
- Do you prefer to be told what to do, or do you prefer to be asked?
- Which is more empowering to you?
- How do you think your team members want to be managed?
- Did you not hire them, or inherit them, for their expertise?
- Who should know their job best, you or them?
- Should you not be consulting them, instead of telling them?
This is where the change has to begin in order to engage and empower your team members, and to get them involved in decision making. This requires trust in yourself and in your team members.
Trust is the essence of all human relationships—personal or business.
While many companies will say that trust is one of their core values, not as many are truly living it.
Do you and your company live trust as a practice?
If not, do you not trust yourself? Do you not trust all of your team members? Why would you want to move forward as a team without any trust? If you feel that there may be some lack of faith, consider what needs to be changed to regain that trust.
To engage and empower team members requires you to ask questions of them and listen intently to their answers. Challenge their answers and help them discover for themselves the real solution. When they discover the solution, they feel empowered; they take ownership and are more motivated when carrying it out. The same applies to decision making. Have a look at the following table with the three decision-making styles.
Decision making by consensus
For some team leaders, decision-making by consensus is as unwanted as a trip to the dentist. But done right, making decisions by consensus gives team members meaningful participation in and ownership of decisions that matter and improves the quality of decisions that are made.
Consensus has been reached when all members of a group can agree on a single solution or decision, and each can say:
- I believe that you understand my point of view
- I believe that I understand your point of view
- Whether or not I prefer this decision, I will support it because it was reached openly and fairly
How to make consensus work:
- Time must be allowed for all team members to state their opposition and state it fully enough to get the feeling that others truly do understand them
- Careful listening by all members to people expressing viewpoints different from their own is imperative
- Avoid arguing for the sake of ‘getting your own way’
- Avoid changing your mind for the sole purpose of avoiding conflict
- Avoid compromising techniques, such as majority vote, averaging, power plays, or coin flipping
- View differences of opinion as natural and helpful rather than as hindrances
- Be suspicious of initial agreement
- Verbally test for consensus by going around the table; silence or a few head nods does not necessarily mean consensus
When to use consensus:
- For a group process or procedural decision pertaining to how the group operates
- In situations where effective implementation of a project requires the commitment and support of all group members
Consensus decision making can yield improved quality of decisions due to:
- More minds
- More information
- More credibility
- More confidence
It can also lead to improved ownership of decisions due to:
- More people involved
- Wider commitment
- Greater support
- Higher potential for successful implementation
Bob Urichuck is an internationally sought after speaker, trainer – founder of the ‘Buyer Focused’ Velocity Selling System – and best-selling author in six languages. His latest books, Velocity Selling: How to Attract, Engage and Empower Buyers to Buy, and Motivate Your Team in 30 Days, were released in 2014.