Who Makes the Decisions in a Meeting?
At the CoA Academy, one of the things we deal with is reasonable “Aufgabentrennung” (separation of tasks). This includes not only who carries out which operational tasks. It also helps to achieve more relaxed productivity if it is clear who makes which decisions.
When decision-making authority is unclear in the team
Sometimes I lean back and relax, take a sip of fresh coffee and congratulate myself on successfully delegating all the tasks. I’m already looking forward to the results we will achieve!
Then suddenly, a discussion occurs in the meeting. Four employees have different views and cannot reach a consensus. The first one has been on the team the longest; the second is a specialist in this field; and the other two share the same opinion and are therefore in the majority. We know such discussions ourselves, the sort that drags on and causes a lot of frustration. If I want to make meetings relaxed and productive, it helps to clarify beforehand how decisions will be made. That, too, is part and parcel of effective separation of tasks (Aufgabentrennung)
Anyone can be the decision maker?
Have you heard of the RACI matrix? We use it extensively to assign responsibility within the team and record who is accountable for what. I could presume that the person who is accountable is also the one that makes all the decisions – and sometimes that’s true, sometimes not. For example, it might be better if the CFO decides on the price of a product, rather than the product developer. Even though the latter is technically “accountable” for the overall product. This kind of example shows me that the RACI model has its limits. It has now column for ‘makes desicions’.
When it comes to the question of who makes a particular decision, I choose from these four options:
● I = I decide.
● I+ = I decide with input from others.
● You = You decide.
● We = We decide together.
What we specify in advance
“We decide” is the most difficult mode because it still requires clarification about how the decision is made. Do we want an absolute majority or just a simple one? Or do we prefer a unanimous majority? There are as many possibilities here as voting systems in the world. The important thing is that it is determined in advance and that it stays that way! Then the meetings will be fast, efficient, productive and relaxed again for everyone involved.
* ‘Aufgabentrennung’ is German for separation of tasks