Managers in organizations often need to take decision based on consensus. They need members of a team to discuss, debate and decide on a mutually agreeable conclusion. Though group decision making is a powerful technique it has its own disadvantages as it is time consuming. Members may be unclear about their roles and if not handled well, there could be some bitter feelings between the members. Nevertheless, its advantages are more than the possible disadvantages. As all the members are involved in the process, it is likely to be accepted easily and members would be more willing and abiding by the decision taken. Besides, there could be more generation of ideas with more information flow.
So, how can managers facilitate a productive group decision making process?
Listed below are a few techniques that can assist managers in their efforts towards arranging a meeting for the purpose of group decision making.
- 1. Brainstorming: It is a combination of group problem solving and discussions. It works on the belief that the more the number of ideas, greater the possibility of having a solution to the problem that is acceptable to all. It starts with the group generating ideas which are then analyzed, with action points based on the discussions.
- 2. Nominal group technique: In a nominal group technique, the team divides itself into smaller groups and generates ideas quietly. Possible options are noted down in writing and the team members further discuss these to narrow down the possible choices they would like to accept. Team members then discuss and vote on the best possible choice. The choice that receives the maximum vote is accepted as the group decision.
- 3. Multi-voting: It starts with a number of rounds of voting where an individual casts his/ her vote for the options that are shortlisted. Each individual can cast one vote at a time. In this way the options favoring the maximum number of votes is carried to the next round. This process is repeated until a clear winning option is obtained.
- 4. Delphi method: In this method of decision making, the facilitator allows team members to individually brainstorm their ideas and submit their ideas “anonymously”. The other team members do not know the owner of the ideas. The facilitator then collects all the inputs and circulates them among others for modifying or improving them. This process continues until a final decision is made.
- 5. Electronic meeting: Here, the decision making process takes place virtually with the help of technology. Participants type any message they want to convey and this flashes on the screen of other participating members. In this process, the identity of the participants can be kept a secret and they can voice their opinions without any inhibitions.
Team decision making is a time-consuming process and before the team leader organizes participation of the full team, he/ she must be sure that he/ she has enough time and resources for the decision making process and choose a technique that is most appropriate in a given situation, keeping the profile of team members in mind.