Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Methods of Group Decision-Making

Below are some different methods of group decision-making.  One method is not always better than another.  Each method is useful at the appropriate time, and each affects the way the group will work together in the future.  What is important is that the group is able to choose a decision-making method which appropriately fits the amount of time available, the history of the group, the nature of the task, and the work climate that the group wants to establish.

Six Common Methods of Group Decision-Making  
  • Decision by Lack of Response - ideas are bypassed until the group acts on one. This is the most common and perhaps least-visible method.  All of the ideas which have been bypassed have, in a sense, been decided by the group.

  • Decision by Authority Rule - the leader decides.  This method is very efficient, but it is only effective when the leader listens well and understands enough to make a good decision.  There is often a lack of ownership and buy-in to these decisions which can make it difficult to gain commitment for implementation, support and follow-through.

  • Decision by Minority Rule - 1, 2 or 3 people demand action and force decisions.  Group members "feel railroaded" by these decisions.  The majority is often against the idea, but each hesitates to speak up because he/she thinks everyone else's silence means agreement.

  • Decision by Majority Rule - voting (formal) or polling (informal).  On the surface, this seems like a sound practice, but a high percentage of decisions made this way end up not being implemented because opposing members do not understand or support them.  The group should be sure all have time to state their case before finalizing.

  • Decision by Consensus - a clear decision option which most members favor.  Consensus is one of the most effective but time-consuming methods of group decision-making.  Communication is open and supportive.  Those who don't share the majority view nevertheless clearly understand it and will support it. 

  • Decision by Unanimous Consent - everyone truly agrees on the decision.  This is the "perfect decision" in concept but often the least attainable because people's ideas, values, goals and objectives are so different.  For certain key decisions, unanimity may be necessary, but for most, consensus is sufficient.

Until next time...

Sheryl Tuchman, SPHR, SHRM-SCP

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