You can use several methods for reaching an appropriate and acceptable decision in a meeting. These include:
- Taking a straw vote — A straw vote is an unofficial vote or poll indicating the trend of opinion on an issue. Sometimes a group comes into a decision-making meeting already knowing the options up for discussion. You could use a straw vote to eliminate any unpopular options from the outset. By asking participants to vote by raising their hands, you can see how much agreement already exists within the group.
- Attaining unanimous agreement — Once you have taken a straw vote to eliminate unnecessary discussion items, you can debate the remaining issues. The best case scenario is when one of the options is the clear favorite. Then your group can easily reach unanimous agreement. Your group can also reach a consensus through compromise. Compromise means that the group hasn’t chosen a single alternative but that parts of more than one alternative are working together. Compromise requires more creative thinking than when all participants easily agree on a solution.
- Taking a majority vote — If your group is unable to reach unanimous agreement, you can go for a majority vote. Voting can be done by a show of hands or by secret ballot. Remind the group that resorting to a vote often results in less cohesiveness within the group and less support for the final decision.
- Calling for an executive decision — Your group may be split or deadlocked on an issue so that reaching a final decision is difficult. You could then turn the decision over to a final decision maker. This person may, or may not, be present at the meeting. If the person called upon to make the executive decision is not at the meeting, you would have to present the options to the person. Once a decision is reached, communicate it to the group members.
When leading a decision-making meeting, it is important to know when to use the four techniques that were presented in this topic. This will help your group make the best decision.
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