Deciding where to eat dinner with your family usually takes hours, and that’s if you’re lucky and can actually come to a consensus. So, there’s no question that group decision-making is a difficult process in any setting, but the process can be even more difficult when you have to make the group decision in the workplace.
Team decision-making comes with its many costs. For starters, it takes more time to make decisions on a team with so much input from the members. There is often frustration and impatience within the team, both of which lead to greater indecisiveness. Additionally, teams usually need more than one meeting to come to a decision, and with more meetings comes more scheduling problems.
However, team decision-making certainly has its benefits as well. With more diversity, you raise the potential to make better decisions that stem from multiple perspectives and opinions. There is also a greater chance for team members to be heard, which leads to greater commitment from the members. Making decisions with a team of colleagues can be challenging, but when the team puts in the effort, it can be worth it in the end. And with the right methods, group decision-making is certainly something that all teams can do.
The Functional Model of Decision Making breaks down the process of group decisions into four steps: Orientation, Discussion, Decision, and Implementation. Each step walks the group through the main processes of making decisions, and, perhaps most importantly, keeps the team on track and prevents wasted time.
The Orientation phase provides the detailed framework for the decision-making. The group should clearly define the decision they need to make and the parameters for how exactly they will make that decision. Will the group make the decision by voting, and does that vote need to be unanimous, or should the team leader have the final say? The orientation phase is the time to figure out the rules for the final decision. Additionally, the group should discuss what they need in terms of a final outcome along with the actual problem that they are trying to solve. During this time, the team should set goals so that everyone on the team has a clear vision for where they are heading.
The Discussion phase is the heart of group decisions. Collectively, the team needs to gather all the information about the problem and outcomes so that everyone can have an informed and productive discussion. Here, members should suggest ideas and solutions that the entire team can respectfully consider. Look at the pros and cons of the suggestions and analyze possible outcomes or consequences. During this period, teams should both identify and evaluate alternative decisions to put all possibilities onto the table.
When discussing possible solutions, it is important to attempt to prevent possible influences on decisions. In a group setting, members may feel a pressure to conform to the group even if they have other opinions. However, diverse perspectives are vital to discussions, as new perspectives can reveal flaws in old ideas or raise innovative ideas. Teams should work on making sure everyone’s voices and opinions are heard.
During this phase, the final decision is made. Decisions can be made solely by the leader or expert, or they can be made by the leader after group consultation. Additionally, the team can delegate the decision to an individual or subgroup, or they can come to a decision through a democratic majority vote or a consensus. However the group decides to make the decision, as chosen during the discussion phase, the decision should be made using the information from the Discussion period. It is important to remember that with the more individual involved, the more time it will take to come to a final decision.
Once the decision has been made, the Implementation phase brings the group together to put the decision into action. The group should discuss how and when they will take the next steps and then execute the decision using chosen methods and best practices. It is important that the team continues to communication throughout this phase to ensure that they are implementing the decision properly and that they chose the correct decision. Teams should continually monitor and evaluate results throughout the process and should seek feedback regarding both their decision and implementation.
Making a group decision doesn’t have to be the worst part of working on your team. If you follow the Functional Model of Decision Making, group decision-making can be efficient and effective.