On this “Ask Katrina,” the question is:

How do I stop being left out of key business discussions and decisions?

This is an age-old question that I know we all wish would simply die.

In a lot of organizations, this actually has gone by the wayside, with companies being super intentional about where and how decisions are made to drive inclusivity and fairness.

However, for all of the ways certain companies have grown and evolved, others are still stuck in the mire of the “way it has always been done” or the attitude that “it really isn’t hurting anyone.”

What am I talking about?

The way that leaders hold “non-meeting” meetings to decide what’s going to happen in the business and you are left out since it wasn’t “really a meeting, we just happened to start talking about business.”

We know the cliche, the guys are on the golf course and while golfing, they talk business and make decisions. If you’re not playing, you’re missing out on the ability to weigh in and play an active role.

So how do we solve for it?

Stop Being Left Out

How do you start to be included or minimally, stop being left out?

The first action is to express your desire to be included.

How many times do we just assume people know that we want to play an active role and because of our assumptions, we don’t speak up?

Don’t leave this one to chance or assumption, have the conversation.

It doesn’t have to be hateful, disrespectful, or challenging. On the contrary, you want to go in with an attitude of support and inclusion so that you will be included.

Tell your supervisor that given the decisions that are being made and your responsibility to share insight on whether those actions can be taken or not, the timelines to reach the end result, and the resources needed to deliver upon them, you have to be involved.

Ask for the ability to participate in the next event.

If that doesn’t feel comfortable or if you are told “it’s not for you,” then respectfully ask that decisions not be made without your ability to weigh in.

Explain the whys.

Get alignment between you and your supervisor so that s/he knows where you’re coming from. It has nothing to do with your desire to participate in the actual event so you’re not trying to crash the party, you’re simply trying to do your job effectively.

And you can’t do that when you’re not allowed to participate in decision-making events.

Women Leave You Out of Key Decisions Too

Now, we are used to assuming that men are the ones leaving women out of events.

However, women do this too. It could be a hair and nail day, it could be a shopping trip, or it could be a thousand things that usually only women go participate in. if you don’t enjoy those events, you may find yourself excluded from the invite list just the same as if it were a golfing trip or an afternoon round at the bar with the guys.

That said, no matter who is leaving you out of key events, you must request to be included in the decision-making process.

Again, explain why it’s hindering your ability to succeed in your role when you’re not involved. It’s also damaging the leader’s brand if they make promises they cannot deliver because they don’t have access to all of the information that you do.

Not only does your participation help you, but it also helps your leader. Ensure s/he knows that.

So again, how will solve this?

  1. Ask for an invite/the ability to participate
  2. If the request is denied or you don’t actually want to participate in the event, respectfully ask that decisions aren’t made without you.
  3. Share examples of how your lack of participation has resulted in delays, missed opportunities, etc.
  4. Ensure you are being the leader you are asking your supervisor to be and include everyone on your team in key decision-making events.
  5. When you’re invited, thank the leader and reinforce the behavior. If you’re not invited, sit down and remind him/her of the need.

This is how you start to be included. If nothing changes and it becomes difficult for you to succeed in your job, you will want to consider a conversation with HR at that point.

Hopefully, you aren’t dealing with this and if you are, your 1:1 conversation resolves the oversight.

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