Far too often, business leaders and managers try to get a consensus regarding important decisions. Yet waiting to get 100% agreement can hinder business growth and may even cripple the entire organization. Decide early: Is the goal to make the right decision or to have 100% consensus?

Being a decision-maker in an organization comes with significant responsibility and risk-taking. And, that can add additional stress when the stakes are high. Naturally, we strive to be respected as leaders and have our teams align when choosing one of the paths at a crossroads. Alignment does not always mean that everyone agrees. It just means that you have clearly communicated the objectives and that you and your team are aware that not every decision is unanimous.

Sometimes, getting consensus on a decision that has the potential to greatly affect your business and the team can be difficult. And when the risk and reward are high, the pressure to get 100% buy-in increases. Leaders are tasked with difficult decisions and being aware that your team may have fears and limiting beliefs needs to weigh in on the gap between consensus.

Waiting for Consensus Can Slow You Down

When a decision has to be made – especially one that is more important than usual – team agreement can appear more necessary. With any choice, there are usually upsides and downsides. Making the right decision can be a complex process and when it involves multiple stakeholders, it can become even more complicated. The bigger the stakes and the more people involved can also mean more time required to reach a decision.

If you find it difficult getting 100% consensus from your team on critical decisions or if you have been forced to postpone decisions that you know are right for your company, it can cost you time and even profitability.

Two Ways Delay Can Be Costly

When you delay a decision waiting on consensus, the clock still ticks. Waiting can cost you a business opportunity, profits, valuable time and can even impact your reputation as lengthy decision making tends to show a lack of decisiveness.

Generally, there are two types of errors in decision-making. The first error is where you miss a great opportunity. This error is called “error of omission” and refers to not pursuing an opportunity.

The second type of error is an “error of commission“, which happens when you engage in a bad project. Having the fear of committing this kind of error can keep you from making necessary decisions.

Both errors of commission and omission can negatively impact your business and your team’s morale.

How To Make A Decision Without 100% Consensus

Getting everyone on board with your plan, while desired, is not always possible. Here are some tips to keep your business moving forward:

1 - Connect Your Decision to the Big Organizational Picture

Remind the decision-makers of the bigger picture so they can see that challenging the status quo is necessary and consistent with achieving bigger goals. Explain how the decision at hand supports the organization’s mission and strategy. Also, acknowledge that everyone has a role in the implementation of the decision and explain how their talents are crucial for success. By including them in the execution of decisions can help them see past the decision and, instead, focus their role in achieving the desired outcome.

2 - Understand What It Will Take to Succeed

One way to understand what it takes to succeed is to have a casual model – that is a good understanding of the factors required for your plan to succeed. Use the “if-then” statement for the decision to visualize the path better.

Example: “If investing in new technology can save us $100,000 over the next 5 years and we can then use the money to invest in marketing that will help us enter a new market, then we should buy the technology.”

3 - Majority Rules

When you have an important decision to make, schedule a meeting or a finite series of meetings to review facts and details. Set the expectation that at the end of the discussion a decision is required. By limiting the number of discussions and expecting a vote, you tend to get better quality decisions.

In this approach, you only need a majority vote to move forward.

The Key Takeaway

Waiting for 100% consensus takes time, can damage your leadership ability and, in many cases, is not necessary in order to move your business ahead. By coaching your team, having targeted dialog and communicating the importance of moving forward, everyone can gain from the decision and ultimately the outcome.

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