Contribute to decision-making in a business environment-NVQ Diploma in Business and Administration-2
If you are part of a decision-making group, you can then just not sit there listening to other people's views, ideas or arguments, instead you need to get involved in the process itself. In order to do that you need to contribute to the process. You will have to gather ideas and prepare them in the proper format and structure, listen, understand and respond to people effectively and when presenting your views or ideas, you will have to provide evidence, be able to respond to questions and be assertive.
This hub is written based on the NVQ unit, “Contribute to decision-making in a business environment.” This is a Level 3 unit with a credit value of 3. There are totally 5 learning outcomes, of which Learning Outcomes 1, 2, 3 and 4 are assessed based on knowledge and understanding and other evidences.
In this hub, I have covered learning outcomes 3 and 4.
3. Understand how to contribute to decision making (3.1 to 3.6)
4. Be able to prepare contributions to decision making (4.1, 4.2)
Learning outcomes 1 and 2 are found on the link below.
3. Understand how to contribute to decision making
In this section we will look at the purpose of contributing to meetings and other discussions where decisions are being made, and ways of doing so, how to structure own ideas and information, the purpose and benefits of respecting other people’s contributions to the decision-making process, the purpose of listening and responding to other people during the decision-making process, and ways of doing so, how to use evidence, argument, questioning and assertiveness to influence outcomes and the purpose of collective responsibility
3.1 Explain the purpose of contributing to meetings and other discussions where decisions are being made, and ways of doing so
When you are included in discussions and groups where decisions are being made, you need to contribute to the decision rather than staying calm. There are various reasons and purpose of contributing to meetings and discussions involved with decision making. Some of them are:
- You completely understand the situation discussed and understand all the facts discussed. You can help people understand facts that they have problem with.
- You can take notes and help others take down ideas that will be useful for them in the process.
- It helps you to increase your confidence and helps you to be a part of the group and also gives you experience on how to conduct meetings and lead them in the future.
- You can help with any arguments or misunderstanding, if you have knowledge and all information about what is discussed.
- You get a feeling of involvement, you feel inspired and motivated, you get many new ideas and you learn and help people learn.
- You help the group to work as a team, the message everyone has is shared, including yours
- You can bring out your talents, skills and experiences, the group and the business benefit from them.
- It helps with coming out with a clear decision
Some ways of contributing to meetings and other discussions are:
- First of all, be clear of what the meeting is about, and make sure that your contribution sticks to what is being discussed and not deviate from it.
- Stay calm and listen when others are speaking or sharing their thoughts and ideas
- Put forward your thoughts, because hiding ideas thinking if it might be wrong will not help anyone. Something that you think is wrong or irrelevant may make a total difference to the process of decision making.
- Ask questions wherever necessary; clarify all doubt that you have
- Discuss all information that you feel are needed to be discussed
- Distribute handouts and make presentations wherever required. This will make understanding easier.
- Accept and respect others and their ideas and present your ideas too.
- Share your skills, knowledge and experience.
- Try to avoid conflicts and unnecessary arguments.
- Take down notes and keep up with the time
- Motivate people to share their ideas, especially the nervous, quiet and shy people
3.2 Explain how to structure own ideas and information
Structuring ideas and information is a way in which ideas and information are ordered and progressed in a smooth way linking each other clearly in a logical and orderly way avoiding repetitions. The ways in which ideas and information can be structured are:
- Focus on the main subject or the key point and do not deviate from it
- Look at the objective clearly, define the problem, and stick to it while structuring your ideas and information.
- Prepare an outline and then fill in the necessary information as you gather them; follow a logical order
- Link similar or relevant information and ideas together
- Use as many titles and subtitles and make points clear with bullets.
- Write down ideas and information with relevant reasons and evidences.
- Make notes or comments wherever necessary for quick and easy reference.
- Prepare a draft with an outline and then write down the final copy without any errors and in neat format highlighting important information and points.
If the structure is neat and well presented, one glance at it will tell the reader or any other observer what the contents are and what they are related to.
3.3 Explain the purpose and benefits of respecting other people’s contributions to the decision-making process
Most decision making processes include groups of individuals and not just one person. The individuals involved may come from different departments and sometimes include people from external organisations, people with all levels of knowledge and experience and people with many types of behaviour and characteristics. So when these different types of people come together and work together, it is important to respect each other and to respect their ideas and contributions. The purpose and benefits of doing so are:
- It will make everyone feel valued, feel important and feel respected that they were consulted and included in the discussion
- They will know that they also played an important role in the decision making process.
- They will contribute their ideas, knowledge, skills and expertise without hesitation and will feel satisfied and content that they contributed.
- They become involved, motivated and will want to do better and improve performance. They will strive for the best and contribute the best they can.
- It helps with coming to an agreement without much conflicts and arguments.
- You gain ideas and knowledge from various people with different perspectives and they benefit too. Basically everyone involved benefits from the diverse knowledge, experiences and skills shared
- Helps with more successful decision making because you get many creative ideas
- Improves interaction and helps build relationships between people and departments, creates a feeling of togetherness, improves team spirit.
- Diverse ideas help develop quality decisions
3.4 Explain the purpose of listening and responding to other people during the decision-making process, and ways of doing so
All through the decision making process, many people or groups of people will be involved in the process. Each person should be given chances to express their views and ideas, must be encouraged to speak, must be listened to and their queries responded to. The purpose of doing so are:
- People feel valued and motivated; they will work hard to do even better
- They will know that their ideas were valuable
- You can convey your thoughts and ideas to them and take feedback.
- You can clarify ideas or points that you did not understand
- Only by listening you can obtain information; you can stay focussed
- Only if you listen, you can respond correctly and appropriately and clarify doubts
- Responding clarifies others’ doubts and they also know that you are approachable. It breaks barriers.
Do you know what Active listening is?
It is an important skill that very few people possess, active listening is very important in both personal and professional life. Please follow the link below to read more about Active listening. How and why to actively listen?
Some ways of listening and responding to other people during the decision making process are:
- Actively listen with an open mind without interrupting and respect people and their ideas. Stay calm. Treat everyone equally ignoring their levels of experience, skills or qualification or hierarchical level
- List or note down the main points, evidences
- Answer their questions, clear any doubts
- Do not take anything personal and do not make personal remarks; keep your ego under check; do not offend anyone or make them feel offended
- Encourage everyone to express their views and ideas, even if they are quiet and do not talk. Probe them with questions
- Accept arguments and constructive criticisms; speak clearly with the correct tone of voice.
- Do not discourage anyone from talking or expressing their ideas, do not tell anyone that their idea is bad or is foolish
- Encourage them to ask questions and provide clarification where requested
- Ask questions wherever you have doubts or need clarity
- Let the people talk and do not interrupt
- Use brainstorming approach
- Do not ignore anyone or their views and ideas; Do not reject or ridicule anyone’s ideas or thoughts; Do not form groups within a discussion, rather be open and include everyone present in the discussion
- Provide feedback; when taking decisions, check if everyone is in agreement and then implement the decision
3.5 Explain how to use evidence, argument, questioning and assertiveness to influence outcomes
After collecting ideas and information, brainstorming sessions and discussions, you will need to arrive at a decision or outcome. This requires evidence for where you got the ideas from and reasons why this is being used, arguments on why that particular decision was chosen, questioning and answering sessions to answer questions raised by people involved and others and also assertiveness to stand strong on that decision and implement it.
We will look at how these factors can be used to influence outcomes for a decision.
Evidence: have a list of the ideas and steps towards the decision, show the costs involved, approaches and strategies used, how problems can be minimised or solved as a result of this decision. Put forward your thoughts clearly and accurately. Have all the facts and figures in hand so that you can defend yourself when questioned or confronted.
Argument: Use logical and realistic reasoning to back up your arguments. Show the benefits of the argument and explain them. Show proper reasoning for the argument. Show proof or instances where your idea has worked out positive results. Be ready to respond to any questions.
Questioning: If there are negative responses, ask them why. Ask them the negative points that they see in the decision or its outcome. Ask for alternatives. Ask if there is something better that will reduce the negative points in this outcome. Ask open questions, so that you get detailed responses.
Assertiveness: Make strong points and give reasons as to why this decision was chosen and why this outcome. Keep a list of all the facts and the details relating to the decision. Be confident that your ideas will work. Stay positive on the decision and put forth all the positive points, evidences and arguments on why this decision was chosen to be the best. Also inform of any negative points if any and that way you are honest. Arguments must be made in a positive way, rather than being aggressive or offensive or violent. Respect others ideas and use a peaceful approach to being assertive and implementing the decision.
3.6 Explain the purpose of collective responsibility
Collective responsibility is working together to achieve positive changes and results responsibly. All individuals involved are held responsible for any actions, be it positive or negative. The purpose of collective responsibility is that:
Group Decision Making
- Everyone contributes and hence everyone takes responsibility of all the outcomes
- Everyone takes all tasks as their own responsibility and works on it.
- You help each other and try your best to avoid errors and help others avoid errors, because you will be responsible for others actions as well.
- You will not ignore the mistakes and negative actions of others, because you too will be held responsible for that
- Makes everyone legally held responsible for all the acts.
- Prevents individuals from dominating or bullying others.
- Everyone is appreciated, so no one goes without being noticed or recognised. Rewards and appreciations go to each and every individual in that group.
4. Be able to prepare contributions to decision making
We will look at identifying sources of information needed for the decision-making process and how to research and collect information to add value to the decision-making process
4.1 Identify sources of information needed for the decision-making process
When you contribute to the decision-making process, you need to gather information from sources that are reliable and error free. One needs to be skilled in identifying sources from which information can be gathered. Data available needs to be complete as partial data will not help with decision making. You also need to make sure that the sources of information are accurate, up to date, relevant, complete, consistent, easily available and accessible, are consistent with organisations policies and procedures, pass the legal requirements and are easy to be understood.
Decision making process
Information can be gathered from a wide range of sources like:
- Normal day to day activities of the business and the employees
- From meetings, conferences and discussions, this can include team meetings, joint team meetings, performance meetings, performance development reviews etc.
- From committee and boards meetings
- Data from projects and from performance reports.
- Statistics by monitoring the performance indicators
- Information prepared as a result of data collected from process flows, cash flows, financial statements, risk analysis, quality testing
- Feedback, surveys, questionnaires, quality analysis statistics
- Rotas and schedules for staff and other agenda
- Inventories / stock levels and other expenses
- Staff availability (check if more or less than required)
- Training, performance and higher management, team cooperation
- Review on progress or day to day running of the business
- Available technology
- Information from Human resources and payroll department and the payments team
- Information from the IT team and quality assurance information
4.2 Research and collect information to add value to the decision-making process
While one has all the above information in a business that will help with the decision making process, one needs to go out of the normal norms and collect as much information as possible by researching other possibilities and resources. These will add credit and weight to the decision making process. These will help you to make accurate decisions. We all have experiences of making wrong decisions and regretting for it later. So it is best to take time to analyse and research and arrive at the best possible decision in order to avoid worries and disappointment in the future.
Some of the ways in which you can research and collect information for decision making are:
- With all the information that you have collected, you can create statistical data to compare various factors and figures and use that for decision making
- You can look through books and articles where there are solutions or suggestions for decision making. Identify the clear and consistent ones and use them to make decisions.
- There may be expert advice or information from experts or other businessmen who have dealt with situations like this in their business and were successful using some kind of methodology, you can try to use that as a base to create a decision making process for yourself
- Even with the data available from your business, categorise the pros and cons and gather information from the resultant statistics.
- Speak to experienced people and ask for advice or suggestions.
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If you wish to look at learning outcomes 1 and 2
1. Understand the purpose and process of decision-making (1.1, 1.2)
2. Understand how to prepare to contribute to decision making (2.1 to 2.5)
Please follow the link below!
I hope this has been of some use to you. If you feel that more information could be added, or some other improvements could be done to make the hub better or if there are errors and deviations from the points discussed, please feel free to feedback.
All the best!
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