Consensual Meetings: Here are Some Pitfalls to Avoid as a Leader

Ever found yourself in a situation where your sub-ordinates are not agreeing with the facts which you’ve deliberately stated? When sub-ordinates fail to agree with your terms and some form of discord still exists, it indicates that the leader is unable to achieve the perfect consensus among teammates. The art of establishing common grounds during meetings is what we term as consensual meetings.

Consensus building is a subtle art that only a few leaders have precisely mastered. Coming to an agreement doesn’t actually mean to satiate everyone’s need and requirement but it is all about bargaining with others so they can come to a mutual agreement. It is not necessarily group brainstorming which relatively discourages creativity, but it is a method where you make your sub-ordinates come to an agreement with each other where they have to even accept difficult truths.

Are you the kind of leader who wishes that their respective teams come out strong and accomplish more? If you do then you need to come up with the right strategy to instigate consensus building. 

You can do so by clearly avoiding the common pitfalls a leader might associate himself while consensus building. Here are pitfalls to avoid as a leader while organizing consensual meetings. 

Do Not Encourage Inappropriate Blocking

Assume that one of your senior managers happens to disagree or object with the proposal which you’ve recently submitted. You might not like his decision because you spent hours brainstorming the perfect features of the mobile app/website which you’ve suggested within that proposal. If the feature which you have introduced within the proposal holds significant importance, then it is not necessarily your fault that consensus is not achieved. It is up to your senior manager to understand that without that particular feature, the app or website isn’t going to function properly. Such a block as the one we are experiencing right now is termed as inappropriate blocking. 

One of the reasons where consensus usually works is when the power to block is restricted to a bare minimum. Blocking should only be allowed by the managers unless an implementation seriously deviates from the core principles of the group or if there is a better alternative solution available. If you, as a manager, are still persistent at blocking, give enough space to your individual to explore the solution on his/her own. If you’re also limiting their opportunity to find a solution, you are being unjust. 

Dissociate Situations Where Bad Behaviors Can Be Triggered

Shooting out disrespectful statements in the middle of a conversation is truly unacceptable. Businesses where bad behaviours are commonly exchanged and sub-ordinates are too passive to respond to such situations, it disregards the entire meeting environment and sour things up for the whole group. This incredibly impacts the mental well being of the persons & the safety of the group.

Hence, it is best advised that managers should set a constructive tone and develop a kind attitude towards all sub-ordinates. A kind attitude can put a stop on all meanness, undercutting, oppressiveness and makes a person fully capable of disagreeing without exuding bad behaviour. 

Consensus Disturb When Poorly Planned Agendas are in Place

If there is one thing that everyone values, it is the time that they invest in accomplishing a task. If an individual’s time is not valued or respected, they can eventually lose interest and will stop showing up. 

As a leader, you need to make sure that you prioritize time and set realistic goals/objectives. 

Reserve a good amount of time on brainstorming what is the best way to make people feel more involved. In case, your clearly thought out agenda doesn’t fall into perspective with your current team members, you should have enough courage to change the overall agenda to meet their requirements. Put main items early in your agenda list rather than placing items that do not hold much importance. Do not create lengthy reports that may take away a major chunk of their time; instead, just cover the highlights and list them as an announcement or make a sheet and place it on the soft board so people can read them on their own leisure. Lastly, don’t forget to provide breaks so people can stay fresh. 

As a result, sub-ordinates can feel more deeply motivated and consensus between them works out. 

Discuss the Issues First Rather than the Proposal

Consensual meetings are where people really do want to feel empowered and included. Hence, what they initially want to discuss first are mostly the issues that they are facing in achieving their goals and objectives. Leaders often initiate the conversations with proposals discussing their plans and agendas first, and that sort of directly demotivates the person to the point, they feel unsure whether they should discuss their problems or not. When issues are addressed first, people explain what problems they are facing and this enables them to get a load off their chest. Often leaders counsel these individuals and reach a consensual solution where everybody is content with the solutions. 

Now, when the proposal is discussed, people are more attentive and compliant to answer the queries. As a result, whatever the leader is about to present has a greater chance of getting accepted. When displaying a proposal for a rather large group of people, it is essential that leaders should begin with addressing the issue first, then revolve their solution around the issue and then make a proposal. 

So there you go here are a few pitfalls which I believe are necessary to avoid as a leader during consensual meeting sessions. Are you facing shortfalls too? Feel free to share your experiences. 

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