The functionality of a group in terms of performance has been known to be effective in various aspects such as conflict situations, problem solving, and decision making. The group takes into account the individual needs and ideas of the members, making it a collaborative approach in dealing with just about any kind of situation. When it comes to decisions, a group decision making style works best for many organizations where members are grouped into teams.
Group decision making is bounded by the principle of synergy or the notion that problems are more effectively handled and managed by a collective and cooperative approach of group members than if taken individually. There are various methods applicable for group decision making as well as the approaches in arriving at a final decision. In addition, decision making performed by a group also has its advantages and disadvantages. All these will be further discussed in this article.
Consensus Decision Making
If leadership decision making is commonly termed as authoritative style, group decision making is otherwise known as consensus decision making. As a general principle, a group decision involves the agreement of everyone in the team before it is implemented.
A consensus decision making process should have the following characteristics:
It should involve not just a few selected members but everyone in the team.
Each member must actively suggest and solicit opinions, inputs and alternatives during the decision making process.
The members must strive to achieve the best possible alternative which is deemed beneficial for the group rather than just going for majority opinion.
All members have equal rights and roles in the process. Everyone is given a chance to speak up, suggest, object, and change proposals.
The group must manifest a general agreement on the most effective decision and resolve any differences through methods such as compromise and negotiation in order to avoid conflict.
• Most Logical
The group would only resort to the most logical decision if there is lack of cooperation from the members.
Group Decision Making Techniques
Various methods may be used by a group in decision making. The following methods are commonly used by many groups:
The process of brainstorming involves members discussing and suggesting opinions as well as alternatives for a decision. The brainstorming session is facilitated by the group or team leader who will solicit ideas from the members and note them down.
b. Dialetical Inquiry
In this group decision making technique, the members are divided into two groups who will debate on the pros and cons of the alternatives.
c. Nominal Group Technique
A structured approach in decision making, the nominal group technique requires each member to develop a list of possible alternatives in writing. After that, the alternatives are presented to the group and are ranked according to order of preference.
d. Delphi Technique
The Delphi technique is applicable only when the members are on separate physical locations. The decision making process is usually done through email, fax or other forms of online technology where the members can meet and discuss.
Pros and Cons of Group Decision Making
A group decision making approach can be greatly beneficial to the group and its members in one of the following ways:
- It utilizes the diverse competencies and expertise of the members.
- It promotes collaboration and unity among the members in the group.
- The group as a whole is accountable for any consequence or outcome of the decision after it is implemented.
- It allows the members to voice out individual ideas and suggestions which can be helpful in arriving at a good decision.
On the other hand, there are disadvantages to group decision making and these are:
- The timeframe for reaching a decision is generally slower in groups than individual approach.
- The problem of “groupthink” may adversely affect the group members. Groupthink happens when the members are pressured to agree to majority opinion.
- Group polarization may also happen which refers to the tendency of the group to settle for extreme and high-risk solutions to address problems.
In a typical organizational setting where employees work in teams, a group decision making approach is very feasible, although each team or group is still facilitated by appointed leaders.