Meetings and Deferring Decision-Making

Meetings and Deferring Decision-Making

Ah meetings, you love them or you hate them.  Of course many meetings, if not most,   are poorly run. Isn’t that amazing after all the books and training classes on holding effective meetings they still can be painful and wasteful.  People have been making jokes about bad meetings for over a decade and yet they seem to persist.

Of course when you go to a well run meeting that has a purpose and stays on that purpose, it feels awesome, empowering and dare I say invigorating.  But today I just want to call out those people who use meetings to defer Decision-Making. I have been observing this more and more over the past years.  Managers will have a meeting on a very important subject and it just does not seem to go anywhere, it just meanders.  Now, I am not talking robust brainstorming or intense discussion, I am talking about meaningless rehash or conversations about non-critical issues for the sake of…I really do not know what.  But it seems that the manager does not want to be decisive and make a decision.  There is such a hesitance these days with so many managers to make a decision and move forward—this is very weak.

And the capper is that these managers will hold meeting under the false pretense of getting everyone’s input or trying to build consensus. (And don’t even get me started on the bastardization of Consensus Building.)  Both of those things are good and important but if you already got them, no need to go back over and over.

So, if you are a leader who might be using meetings to delay decision-making, please stop!  Be honest with yourself about this.  Artificially delaying decision-making creates a whole array of issues including timing issues of original challenge, disengagement of the team, loss of momentum and a backlog of other decisions that you have to make.  Get good as being decisive and learn a variety approaches to decisions-making.

If you are in a meeting that feels like its sole purpose is to be an accomplice in deferring a managerial decision, be bold and help the manager frame the issue, identity a decision-making process, and move forward.  Be comfortable with respectfully asking the purpose of the meeting and about relevant milestones regarding key decisions.

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