tips for better Team decision-making

At the end of this blog post, you’ll understand the causes of groupthink and 5 tips to better team decision-making.

Decision-making is an integral part of any team activity. Team decision-making involves a sequence of activities that includes gathering, interpreting and exchanging information, creating and identifying alternative courses of action, choosing among alternatives by integrating the often differing perspectives and opinions of team members and implementing a choice and monitoring its consequences.


Sometimes teams can follow a flawed process by not exchanging enough information, exploring inadequate alternatives, and making erroneous conclusions. Groupthink is one such pitfall of decision-making.


This blog post aims to explore the role leadership plays in enhancing as well as mitigating groupthink in team decision-making processes. Since most important and consequential decisions affecting organizations are made in groups, it is important to be conversant with the conditions and symptoms of this bias and at the same time, know how to mitigate them.


Groupthink is a phenomenon where individuals in a group tend to push aside their personal opinions or beliefs to reach a shared consensus with the group—to the detriment of the group’s goals.


In essence, it is a barrier to information appraisal and processing and inhibits inclusive rationalization.

The major causes of groupthink 


1. Trying To Evade Conflict

A typical environment in which groupthink thrives is one where group members want to avoid conflict wherever possible. Rather than facing conflict, your teammates may try to rationalize themselves into accepting courses of action that they don’t agree with.

Moreover, not all conflict is good or healthy, but fear of conflict avoidance can be a sign of a dysfunctional work environment. If you believe in a project or an approach, you can’t be afraid to enter conflict for fear of rejection.


2. Having A Know-it-all Attitude

Groupthink is often a result of a lack of critical thinking, something that goes hand-in-hand with a know-it-all attitude.

This can quickly show itself through a few tell-tale signs of groupthink: superiority and stereotyping. Also, it can create the illusion of unanimity: the belief that everyone agrees when they are not.


3. Lack of Psychological Safety

This is the knowledge that you won’t be punished for expressing concerns or making a mistake. Without psychological safety, members of a group, especially more junior team members, won’t speak up because of social pressure.

As leaders and CEOs, it’s our responsibility to cultivate an environment that’s conducive to healthy group cohesion and creative problem-solving.


4. Overly Rigid Thinking

Another cause of groupthink is overemphasizing reason and inside-the-box thinking can kill creativity and instinct.

If you’re in the same boat, make it clear that it’s okay for team members to explore alternatives instead of always relying on the same rigid decision-making process or framework. It makes for a much more fun and—fruitful—brainstorming process.


What Are The Tips For Better Team Decision-making?


In addition to creating an environment of trust and openness, in which team members are encouraged to speak up and critique ideas and opinions without fear of being punished, you could use the following tips for better team decision-making.


1. Evaluate All Ideas Critically

Rather than prioritizing ideas that a vocal majority or minority seem to be on board with or are suggested by senior team members, evaluate ideas objectively based on merit. One good way to do this is by getting all members of the group to write down the pros and cons for each idea before deciding on a course of action.


2. As a Leader, Keep Your Ideas to Yourself (At First)

As the CEO or the host of the meeting, you can have a huge influence on the decision-making process.

By keeping your ideas to yourself at first, you can mitigate this and encourage the rest of the group to use teamwork and brainstorming to come up with their ideas.

One simple way to do this when you have a hybrid or remote team is to put yourself on mute when you’re getting the team to have a group discussion without your influence.


3. Monitor Team Size

Another way to quickly remove the illusion of unanimity is to give each person a bigger share of voice in the group discussion.

The more people you have in a group, the more team members tend to feel comfortable leaving everything up to the usual decision-makers and keeping their points of view to themselves.

Though there is no magic number that may work, by keeping a team lean the leader may encourage its members to speak versus conforming to popular views.


4. Use of Experts

When an expert is present, groups with directive leaders make better decisions than groups with non-directive leaders.

The presence of an expert can reduce the insulation of the group from the outside world and help clarify ideas and pinpoint the strengths and weaknesses of ideas.

The advantage of an expert is that they aren’t a part of your group dynamic and aren’t prone to the types of rationalizations that may become second nature to an in-house team.


5. Use of Devil’s Advocate Role

The devil’s advocate role is that of a person who takes a position for the sake of fostering argument and conflict and is one of the oldest tools that can be used for better team decision-making.

If your group is trying to tackle a complex or nuanced problem, and it feels like the discussion is flowing along too smoothly, that it’s a sign that someone isn’t speaking up.


Hopefully, these five tips of better team decision-making will help you steer off groupthink at your next team decision-making session.


Everyone on your team should be aware of groupthink and how they can either overcome it themselves or help their teammates overcome it.

Do you need help with coaching your leadership and management team? Feel free to contact us here to find out how we can help you.


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