Whether you are making changes to sales processes, or adapting training to improve your team’s sales skills, important business decisions require careful consideration and buy-in from the entire organisation. Therefore, meetings are often called to explain the situation in full and decide upon the right solution.
Here, we take a look at how managers can plan their meetings, in order to produce better outcomes.
Time management is a vital aspect of planning meetings and the decisions you need to make should be sorted, so that the right amount of time is allocated. According to Stephen Covey’s time management quadrants, tasks can be broadly separated into four categories and this applies to decisions too. They are as follows:
- Decisions that are urgent and important
- Decisions that are urgent but unimportant
- Decisions that are not urgent but important
- Decisions that are not urgent and not important
When it comes to planning your meetings, decisions should be placed in one of those four categories and priority should be given to decisions in that order, with urgent and important decisions receiving the most time and non-urgent, non-important decisions receiving the least time.
Next, all important decisions must be taken with full knowledge of the facts and an understanding of the results, consequences or repercussions. For this reason, it is important that you also plan for the way in which you will present the problem to all of those at the meeting, so that you do not leave out any crucial elements.
Plan to present the matter in three sections:
1) The problem, situation, or decision.
2) The underlying causes, or reasons.
3) The options that are available to you.
4) The predicted outcomes, or pros and cons.
For example, if you have a problem that is impacting upon your overall sales performance, you need to clearly outline what the problem is, explain what is causing it, provide those in the meeting with some options for resolving this and explain what the plus points and drawbacks of those options are. You may also want to consider allowing attendees to challenge you on any of these points and propose alternative solutions.
Finally, before your meeting is called, you should know who is going to attend and how a decision is going to be reached. In some cases, meetings will consist of senior staff and board members and decisions in these meetings will usually be decided by a vote, with the majority vote being the final decision.
However, in other meetings, decisions may be made by trying to achieve a general consensus in the room. Where possible, decisions should not be made by a single person and dictated to the rest of the group. Moreover, where votes are used, a consensus should still ideally be reached first.
“Putting a decision to a vote is such a terrible way to go about it if you want to get commitment,” says Elise Keith, co-founder of Lucid Meetings, in a blog post. “Most experts recommend you use voting as a last resort. Work very hard to ensure general agreement on the final decision before calling the vote.”
When it comes to planning meetings, business leaders must prioritise the decisions that are most urgent and most important, present the problem, issue or decision that needs to be made clearly and have an understanding of how a final decision will be made in advance. Where possible, there should be an attempt to reach a consensus, as this will ensure active participation from all of those in attendance, rather than a more passive voting system.