Involving more people in the decision making process can greatly improve the quality of a manager’s decision and outcomes. However, involving more people can also increase conflict and generate other challenges. Here are the advantages and disadvantages of group decision making.
Advantages of Group Decisions
An advantage to involving groups in decision making is that the manager can incorporate different perspectives and ideas. For the advantage to be realized, however, you need a diverse group. In a diverse group the different group members will each tend to have different preferences, opinions, biases, and stereoty0pes. Because a variety of view points must be negotiated and worked through, group decision making creates additional work for a manager, but (provided the group members reflect different perspectives) it also tends to reduce the effects of bias on the outcome.
For example, a hiring committee made up of all men might end up hiring a larger proportion of male applicants (simply because tend to prefer people who are more similar to themselves). But with a hiring committee made up of equal numbers of men and women, the bias should be cancelled out, resulting in more application being hired based on their qualifications rather than their physical attributes.
Having more people involved in decision making is also beneficial because each individual brings unique information or knowledge to the group, as well as different perspectives. Additionally, the participation of multiple people will often lead to more options being generated and to greater intellectual stimulation as group members discuss available options.
Braining storming is a process of generating as many solutions or options as possible and is a popular technique associated with group decision making.
All of the factors can lead to superior outcomes when groups are involved in decision making. Furthermore involving more people who will be affected by a decision in the decision making process will allow those individuals to have a greater understanding of the issues or problems and a greater commitment to the solutions.
Disadvantages of Group Decisions.
Decision making is not without challenges. Some groups get bogged down by conflict, while others go to the opposite extreme and push for agreements at the expense of quality discussions. Groupthink occurs when group members choose not to vote their concerns objections because they would rather keep the peace and not annoy or antagonize others. Sometimes groupthink occurs because the group has a positive team spirit and camaraderie, and individual group members don’t want to change by introducing conflict. It can also occur because past successes have made the team complacent.
Often one in the group has the power to exert more influence than the others and discourages those with different opinions from speaking up (suppression of dissent) to ensure that only their own ideas are implemented If members of the group are not really contributing their ideas and perspectives, however, then the group is not getting the benefits of group decision making.
How to form a quality group.
Effective managers will try to ensure quality group decision by forming groups with diverse members so that a variety of perspectives will contribute to the process. They will also encourage everyone to speak up an voice their opinions and thoughts prior to the group reaching a decision. Sometimes groups will also assign a member to play the devil’s advocate in order to reduce groupthink. The devil’s advocate intentionally takes the role of critic. Their job is to point out flawed logic, to challenge the group’s evaluations of various alternatives, and to identify weaknesses in proposed solutions. This pushes the other group members to think more deeply about the advantages and disadvantages of proposed solutions before reaching a decision and implementing it.
The methods described above can all help ensure that groups reach good decisions, but what can a manager do when there is too much conflict within a group? In this situation, managers need to help group members reduce conflict by finding some common ground-areas in which they can agree, such common interest, values, beliefs, experiences, or goals. Keeping a group focused on a common goal can be very worthwhile tactic to keep group members working with rather than against one another.
Summary of techniques that may help improve group decision making.
- Have diverse members in the group. It improves quality and generates more options, reduce biases.
- Assign a devil’s advocate. Improves quality and reduce groupthink.
- Encourage everyone to speak up and contribute. Improves quality: generate more options and prevents suppression of dissent.
- Help group members find common ground. Improves quality : reduces personality conflict.
Decision making is crucial daily activity for managers. Decisions range small and simple with straightforward answers, to big and complex, with little clarity about what the best choice will be. Being an affective manager requires learning how to successfully navigate all kinds of decisions. Expertise, which develops gradually through learning and experience, generally improves managerial decision making, but managers rarely rely solely on their own expertise. They also conduct research and collect information from others; they pay attention to their own biases and to ethical implications, and they think critically about the information that they have received to make decisions that will benefit the organization and its shareholders.
Source: Extract from Principles of Management by Openstax. Download for free at https://openstax.org/details/books/principles-management.”